House GOP weighing another try at passing health care bill next week, sources say

Bloomberg

House Republicans are considering making another run next week at passing the health-care bill they abruptly pulled from the floor in an embarrassing setback to their efforts to repeal Obamacare.

Two Republican lawmakers say that leaders are discussing holding a vote, even staying into the weekend if necessary, but it's unclear what changes would be made to the GOP's health bill. They described the discussions on condition of anonymity.

Members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, who helped derail the bill, have been talking with some Republican moderate holdouts in an effort to identify changes that could bring them on board with the measure.

The renewed discussion comes after President Donald Trump and Republican leaders in Congress said they would move on to issues like a tax overhaul in the wake of last week's drama, when the long-awaited bill was pulled 30 minutes ahead of a scheduled floor vote.

Hospital companies declined on the news. The BI North America Hospitals Competitive Peer Group index fell 2.7 percent at 3:28 p.m. in New York.

Asked if the GOP health bill will come up again, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said, "Yes. As soon as we figure it out and get the votes."

But McCarthy said nothing is currently scheduled and didn't indicate how leadership would resolve divisions between the Freedom Caucus and moderates in the so-called Tuesday Group. "Lot of people are talking," he said. "Lot of people are working."

House Speaker Paul Ryan is encouraging members to continue talking to each other about health care to "get to a place of yes" on a plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, according to his spokeswoman AshLee Strong. She didn't have any updates on the timing on a future vote.

House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, a North Carolina Republican, has been negotiating with colleagues on a compromise.

"There's a real commitment among members he's been speaking with to not give up and move expeditiously toward a path forward," his spokeswoman, Alyssa Farah, said. "But he doesn't want to constrain himself to artificial deadlines like 'before recess.'"

The discussion of a new vote comes with House Republican leaders and other key lawmakers leery of playing up talk of a redo. To set such expectations -- only to again not have a vote occur -- could be even more awkward for members when they leave Washington next week for a two-week recess.

Other Republicans said they're unaware of any plans to act on health care, and the remaining disagreements on the measure could be very difficult to resolve.

"I haven't heard anything as to what leadership is doing," said Representative Walter Jones of North Carolina. "The issue is very complex."

Multiple House Republicans said they've heard from constituents who want to still repeal the Affordable Care Act and hope the issue isn't dead.

"I'm very optimistic we can get something done in the real near future. And when I say in the near future, it may be two weeks, it may be a month," said Representative Robert Aderholt of Alabama.

"I do think it will come up again, the question is when. The form will have to change some," said Representative Morgan Griffith of Virginia, adding that there remains a strong desire among conservative activists to undo the law.

"If both the Freedom Caucus and the Tuesday Group can agree on some things, then we're in good shape," he said.

He said failing to achieve meaningful change would hurt Republicans in 2018.

"If we just sit up here and play tiddlywinks, it'll hurt us," he said.

The House is scheduled to begin a two-week recess starting April 7, and Republicans would like to return home having passed their health-care measure. Even so, it would mark quite a turnaround for a measure that had been declared dead.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell sounded ready to move on Tuesday.

"It is pretty obvious we were not able in the House to pass a replacement," he told reporters. "Our Democratic friends ought to be pretty happy about that because we have the existing law in place and I think we're just gonna have to see how that works out."

But Greg Walden, a Republican from Oregon and former Energy and Commerce Committee chairman, sounded optimistic on Tuesday.

"We're approaching the Easter season," he said. "Some things rise from the dead."

Bloomberg's Anna Edgerton contributed.

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