With quick action by the House and Senate in the first two weeks of this year to approve a budget outline allowing for expedited action on plans to repeal chunks of the Obama health law, now comes the much more difficult part for Republicans, forging legislation that will not only get to President Trump’s desk – but also work for the American people.
“This resolution gives us the tools we need for a step-by-step approach to fix these problems and put Americans back in control of their health care,” said Speaker Paul Ryan said Friday as the House gave final approval to a GOP budget outline for this year.
If you’re a bit confused by the process here – don’t worry – many on Capitol Hill probably can’t explain it correctly, either.
So, let’s go over what happens next in our own Sunday edition of Schoolhouse Rock.
If you look at this handy-dandy graphic put out by the House Budget Committee, and tweeted out by Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA), we are now through step 3 on this chart.
Next up is various committees putting together a “reconciliation bill,” which will include a series of changes – but not full repeal – of the Obama health law.
One important thing to remember is that only part of the Obama health law was approved through reconciliation, the process by which you can avoid a filibuster in the Senate.
The way the rules work in Congress, only part of the health law can be repealed through reconciliation in 2017.
The reconciliation bill approved back in 2010 was much smaller than the policy-filled law known as the Affordable Care Act.
What are the Republican details?
Yes, the GOP has a number of health care plans which have been introduced as legislation, but not one of them is ready for a vote in either the House or the Senate.
“Right now we have a lot of ideas, it’s true, but some of those are ideas are somewhat disconnected,” said Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA). “We need to develop one plan.”
As I detailed last week, some of the GOP plans could create some controversy, like one that would make employer provided health benefits into taxable income.
One of the big steps with any health care plan from the GOP will be to get the proposal “scored” by the Congressional Budget Office – an estimate of the impact on the federal deficit.
GOP leaders hope to narrow down their choices in coming weeks – but when you interview lawmakers, it’s obvious just how many different ideas there are.
“We have to fix health care in this country; it’s a mess,” said Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ). “Both parties in my opinion have messed this up.”
While Republicans plan, Democrats are trying to gather support back at home – like this Sunday rally in Maine:
And this one in Boston:
This will be a high stakes political battle for both sides. Stick with us as we detail every step from the halls of Congress.