House in Holding Pattern on Health Care

No sign of big push this week on reworked legislation

Speaker Paul D. Ryan said Republicans are moving in the same direction on health care, but there is no imminent consensus. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Republicans continue to work toward a health care deal but are currently in a holding pattern as they await further details from the Trump administration on proposed changes to the bill.

“We don’t have bill text or an agreement yet,” Speaker Paul D. Ryan told reporters after meeting with the GOP conference Tuesday morning. He declined to discuss details of proposed changes, saying “productive conversations” were happening at the “conceptual level” regarding how to lower insurance premiums while maintaining “solid protections for people.”

House Freedom Caucus members said the same thing Monday night after leaving a meeting where Vice President Mike Pence and Trump administration officials, including White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, discussed the proposed changes with them. Several Freedom Caucus members said they expected to see a legislative outline of the changes from the administration Tuesday.

Ryan on Tuesday said Pence has been “instrumental” in bringing together different groups from the GOP conference to talk about ideas for improving the bill.

“So right now we’re just at that conceptual stage about how to move forward in a way that can get everybody to 216,” he said. “It’s important that we don’t just win the votes of one caucus or one group but that we get the votes and the consensus of 216 of our members.”

While Ryan said House Republicans are “very close on consensus” -- he again cited his belief that 90 percent of the conference is supportive of the GOP bill — he cautioned that they’re not ready for a new vote. “That’s not to say we’re ready to go.”

House Democratic leaders said they did not have any signs there was any room for substantive movement on a health bill this week, with the start of a two-week recess looming on Friday. 

House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer said he’s gotten no indication that the House will act this week on a health care bill, whether that means scheduling additional committee meetings or the possibility that members would stay through the weekend.

“No to all of the above,” the Maryland Democrat said Tuesday.

Rema Rahman contributed to this report.

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