Lawmakers Predict GOP Bill Will Be 2018 Campaign Issue

Republicans may still be tethered to a bill that was never put to a vote

Former National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Greg Walden leaves a meeting of the House Republican Conference where Speaker Paul D. Ryan announced the vote for leadership’s health care plan had been canceled. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated March 25

Republicans won’t have a recorded vote on leadership’s health care plan but that doesn’t mean their position on it won’t be used against them in campaign ads in 2018. 

Former National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Greg Walden, now chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, admitted as much Friday evening. “Everybody staked out their position so they’ll be able to reap the benefit of that position or take the hit,” he told Roll Call.

Some Republicans actually do have recorded votes that will be used against them. The Democratic Congressional Campaign on Monday will debut a five-figure digital ad campaign attacking 14 Republicans who voted for the bill in committee. 

“This targeted ad campaign makes clear that every House Republican who voted in committee for this devastating Republican repeal bill will be held accountable from now through Election Day," DCCC Chairman Ben Ray Luján said in a statement Saturday morning. 

The ads will be geotargeted to swing voters age 35 and under on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. 

GOP targets include Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo and Mario Diaz-Balart, Pennsylvania Reps. Pat Meehan, Ryan Costello and Lloyd Smucker, Minnesota Reps. Erik Paulsen and Jason Lewis, Washington Rep. Dave Reichert, Illinois Rep. Peter Roskam, New York Reps. Chris Collins and John Faso, New Jersey Rep. Leonard Lance, Michigan Rep. Tim Walberg and California Rep. Mimi Walters.

Lance came out against the bill the week before the scheduled vote on the House floor. 


After the House passed the rule providing for consideration of the bill midday Friday, the House Democrats’ campaign arm went after Virginia Republican Barbara Comstock.

“Not only is she already on the record putting the Republican repeal bill in motion, but she refused to take a final position until after it was clear the bill was dead,” Leiter said. Comstock’s announcement she would vote no was several hours before leadership canceled the vote. 

The DCCC’s attack on Comstock for being late to take a position resembled their attack against her last fall, when she waited until the “Access Hollywood” tapes to take a stand against then-candidate Donald Trump.

And it’s not just in House races that the GOP health’s care bill is expected to play a role. Democrats are likely to raise the issue in Senate races, like Missouri, Ohio, Indiana, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, where House Republicans could challenge Democratic senators next year. 

“To every Republican Senate candidate — and to those still weighing their decision whether to run or not — we have one message for you: you own this plan,” Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokesman David Bergstein said in a statement Friday night. 

Priorities USA, the major Democratic super PAC, blasted Trump’s “broken promise” that everyone would have health care if he won and vowed to tie Republicans to any efforts to dismantle the 2010 health care law. 

“If Trump and the Republicans refuse now to work with Democrats to keep what works in the Affordable Care Act and make common-sense improvements where needed, we will hold them accountable for the consequences, and make sure voters know it in 2018,” Priorities USA Chairman Guy Cecil said in a statement.

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.