Divisions remain as health care overhaul debate begins

Not all Republicans are on board with proposal
Posted at 5:22 PM, Mar 08, 2017
House Democrats at two Congressional hearings today were united in protesting the pace set for the Republicans' Obamacare repeal bill's passage and painting the legislation as a windfall for the wealthy.
The House Ways and Means Committee and the Energy and Commerce Committee both began their markups of the American Health Care Act that became marathon sessions as Democrats invoked procedural hurdles and offered amendments meant to stall the bill's advancement to the House floor.
"The bill would cut taxes for the rich and corporations by about $600 million so billionaires would benefit while Republicans dump huge out-of-pocket costs of working families," said Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.Y., the ranking member of the Ways and Means Committee.
"To consider a bill of this magnitude without a CBO score is not only puzzling and concerning, it's also irresponsible," said Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., referring to the Congressional Budget Office, which reports on the costs of legislation.
But Speaker Paul Ryan doesn't need Democratic votes to press ahead.
"I have no doubt we'll pass this because we're going to keep our promises," said Speaker Ryan at a news conference with House Republican leadership this morning. "I think every Republican in Congress, including the President of the United States, made a promise to the American people, and the promise we made to the American people is we're going to repeal and replace Obamacare."
Yet it's some of those House Republicans - not Democrats - who stand in Ryan's way, saying the bill isn't conservative enough.
"It is the largest welfare program ever proposed by Republicans in the history of the Republican party. It's going to be disastrous for our deficit and debt long term," said Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala.
The Trump administration has made clear that it sees the bill as a starting point for negotiation - and the Speaker has to get 218 out of the 237 house republicans on board.
"I can tell you I don't know there's 218 votes of consensus around any bill today. But certainly when anything is brought to the floor, [Speaker Ryan] will do his whip count and make sure he has 218. Today is not that day," said Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C.
Tonight, President Donald Trump meets with influential conservative groups that came out against the bill yesterday. And this weekend, the President is headed to Kentucky - the home state of Rand Paul, the Senate's biggest Republican critic of the bill.
Another group that now has to be won over is the American Medical Association. In a letter to Congress today, the AMA wrote, "we cannot support the AHCA as drafted because of the expected decline in health insurance coverage and the potential harm it would cause to vulnerable patient populations."