By Cristina Marcos - 05-04-17 15:33 PM EDT
Twenty mostly centrist House Republicans who represent swing districts voted against the GOP's legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act on Thursday.
Two more defections would have doomed the bill, signaling how tough a vote it was for many lawmakers.
Only one member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, freshman Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), voted against the measure because it didn't go far enough to fully repeal the healthcare law. Two other libertarian-minded conservatives, Reps. Thomas Massie (Ky.) and Walter Jones (N.C.), also opposed it.
The defectors were primarily centrists who had trepidations about voting for the bill after the addition of an amendment to let states apply for waivers from certain ObamaCare provisions that prevent insurers from charging sick people higher premiums and mandate which services insurance plans must cover.
Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) was the only co-chair of the centrist Tuesday Group to vote no. Reps. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), a leadership ally, and Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.), who negotiated the state waiver amendment, supported the bill.
Dent said he thinks the proposal will increase health insurance costs for low- and moderate-income Americans, citing the original Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report that estimated the bill would result in 24 million more uninsured people over the next decade.
"Too much time and energy has been spent on meeting arbitrary deadlines and artificial timelines, all to improve the budget baseline for tax reform. We must and can do better," Dent said in a statement.
"It is my hope that cooler heads will prevail in the Senate," Dent added.
Hardly any Republicans opposed the bill over the rushed process that brought it to the floor. Republican leaders scheduled a vote before waiting for an analysis from the CBO estimating its effects.
Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) was among the few to cite the lack of a CBO score as a reason for why he'd vote against the bill on Thursday.
"I'm sympathetic to leadership's challenge - getting 216 votes in this highly polarized environment isn't easy. Also, as I have stated in the past, I'm certainly not going to vote on a bill of this magnitude that hasn't been fully scored by the Congressional Budget Office and whose estimated price tag is unknown," Coffman said in a statement hours before the vote.
Jones, in a statement, called the rushed process used by GOP leaders without a revised CBO score "shameful."
"As a result, no one has any idea how much those deals will cost the American taxpayers, or how they might affect the cost, quality and availability of health insurance coverage for American families," Jones said.
"Seven years ago, Speaker Nancy Pelosi infamously said of the Obamacare bill: 'You have to pass the bill so we can find out what's in it.' Sadly, the Washington Republican leadership is repeating the same mistakes."
Other centrist Republicans who voted against the bill were Reps. Barbara Comstock (Va.), Ryan Costello (Pa.), Dan Donovan (N.Y.), Brian Fitzpatrick (Pa.), Jaime Herrera Beutler (Wash.), Will Hurd (Texas), John Katko (N.Y.), Leonard Lance (N.J.), Frank LoBiondo (N.J.), Patrick Meehan (Pa.), Dave Reichert (Wash.), Chris Smith (N.J.) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Fla.).
All of the centrists except for Smith and Dent represent districts being targeted by the House Democratic campaign arm for the 2018 midterm elections.
The remaining two Republican defectors, Ohio Reps. Mike Turner and David Joyce, are typically reliable leadership allies but weren't able to support the legislation this time.
"This bill will leave our most vulnerable citizens with inadequate health coverage. I cannot support a health plan to replace Obamacare that puts my constituents' health benefits at risk," Turner said in a statement after the vote.
Many of the 20 Republicans will be barraged with ads tying them to the healthcare legislation, despite their votes against it.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced Thursday it is launching digital ads in 30 districts, regardless of whether the Republicans holding them voted for the healthcare bill.
Coffman, Joyce, Costello, Hurd and Comstock are among the Republicans whose districts will see the ads.
- This story was updated at 4:46 p.m.