Republican dominated House of Representatives is set to repeal Obamacare that gives poor Americans health coverage, weeks after President Donald Trump’s replacement bill was withdrawn for lack of support.
Confident of more support for the overhauled bill, Republican leaders in the House have scheduled a vote for today.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy expressed confidence the bill would pass and several moderate Republican lawmakers who previously objected to the bill said they could now support it.
A vote was expected as early as midday Thursday, with lawmakers planning to leave town later that day for a week-long recess. Late on Wednesday, the bill cleared a procedural step allowing it to advance to the House floor.
Even if a narrow majority in the House approves the bill, it still faces a steep climb in the Senate, where only a few defections could kill the effort.
Keen to score his first major legislative win since taking office in January, Trump threw his own political capital behind the bill, meeting with lawmakers and calling them in an effort to cajole their support.
Trump, whose Republican party controls both the House and Senate, is seeking to make good on his campaign promise to repeal and replace Obamacare.
Aides said he worked the phones furiously.
Wavering moderate Republicans had worried that the legislation to overhaul President Barack Obama’s 2010 signature healthcare law would leave too many people with pre-existing medical conditions unable to afford health coverage.
But several Republican skeptics got behind the bill after they met with Trump to float a compromise proposal that is still expected to face unanimous Democratic opposition.
The legislation’s prospects brightened further after members of the Freedom Caucus, a faction of conservative lawmakers in the House who played a key role in derailing the original version of the bill last month, said they could go along with the compromise.
The bill is also receiving a torrent of opposition from medical groups, including the American Medical Association, who say millions of Americans will lose coverage or face higher costs.
Millions more Americans got healthcare coverage under Obamacare, but Republicans have long attacked it. They view it as a government intrusion into the healthcare system and blame it for driving up costs.
Called the American Health Care Act, the Republican bill would repeal most Obamacare taxes, including a penalty for not buying health insurance. It would slash funding for Medicaid, the program that provides insurance for the poor, and roll back much of Medicaid’s expansion.
The latest effort comes after earlier pushes by Trump for healthcare reform collapsed twice, underscoring the difficulty of rallying together the Republican party’s divided factions.
Earlier this week, prospects for the legislation appeared grim as several influential moderate Republicans said they could not support the bill, citing their concerns about protecting people with pre-existing conditions.