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Thursday, March 23, 2017

House votes to fast-track ObamaCare repeal

House votes to fast-track ObamaCare repeal
By Cristina Marcos - 03-23-17 21:32 PM EDT

The House voted late Thursday night to speed up consideration of the GOP healthcare plan as Republicans race toward the critical vote.

GOP leaders plan to bring up the legislation meant to fulfill a seven-year campaign pledge on Friday, even though they are struggling to win over enough votes after marathon negotiations and dealmaking behind closed doors.

The House normally has to wait a day before considering a measure produced out of the Rules Committee, which determines how legislation is considered on the floor.

The fast-track procedure approved in a largely party-line vote Thursday night waives that requirement and speeds things up. This way, the House can consider a rule establishing parameters for floor debate on the same day it comes out of the Rules Committee.

Four Republicans opposed to the GOP healthcare plan voted against the rule in an unusual break with leadership on a procedural vote.

GOP Reps. Justin Amash (Mich.), Thomas Massie (Ky.), Walter Jones (N.C.) and David Young (Iowa) have all come out against the bill.

"We must have the opportunity to read and understand the final bill before we vote. It's irresponsible to do otherwise," Amash tweeted.

Lawmakers typically vote by party lines on procedural votes even if they might defect on the underlying legislation. That's because procedural votes are viewed by leadership as a referendum on how they run the floor.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said on the floor late Thursday that it's expected the vote could wrap up by Friday afternoon.

The House Rules Committee is expected to meet Friday morning to add an amendment to the legislation that, among other provisions, would eliminate ObamaCare's minimum insurance coverage requirements.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) issued an updated analysis earlier Thursday based on proposed changes unveiled earlier in the week. Those provisions will also be added to the bill by the Rules Committee.

But it's not expected to have time to issue another analysis in time for Friday's vote to assess how repealing the minimum insurance requirements will affect the nation's healthcare system.

Democrats blasted the GOP for rushing ahead with a major healthcare overhaul without waiting for the CBO's full analysis.

"The rules are there are no rules. It's Lord of the Flies day here in the House of Representatives. They want to make us vote on a bill that no one's even read. No one can find it. Anything goes," Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) said.

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