“If we don’t pass this out of the House, this is the beginning of the end for us as a Republican Party.”
— Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL), quoted by the Tampa Bay Times, on the GOP Obamacare replacement.
Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) is under criminal investigation by the Justice Department over alleged campaign finance violations, Politico reports.
San Diego Union-Tribune: “The Department of Justice has not made public the existence of an investigation, nor detailed what crimes it suspects Hunter or members of his campaign may have committed. Other lawmakers accused of personal spending have been indicted on charges including income tax evasion and making false reports to the Federal Election Commission.”
Republican lawmakers leaving the White House after a meeting with President Trump “said they have not reached a deal that would allow them to support an Obamacare repeal-and-replace bill set for a vote Thursday,” The Hill reports.
“Republicans appear short of the 215 votes they’d need to win the tally, raising questions about whether GOP leaders will decide to delay the vote.”
Politico: “If Trump fails to clinch an agreement with the group, the Republican effort to repeal Obamacare will be all but dead.”
House Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC): “There are not enough votes as of 1:30 p.m. today.”
Energy Secretary Rick Perry told the Houston Chronicle that the election of the first openly gay president of Texas A&M’s student body was “stolen” and that the student who had the most votes was disqualified through a process that “made a mockery of due process and transparency.”
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FiveThirtyEight: “Imagine a Congress and a president of the same party working on health insurance reform. They write up a piece of legislation, and it’s not popular. Within two weeks of its introduction in Congress, the bill garners just 41 percent support from the American public, and the opposition party is completely against it. People protest. People yell at lawmakers. The lawmakers pass the bill anyway, and the party and president are summarily punished in the next election: They lose a ton of seats in Congress. That was President Obama, Democrats and the Affordable Care Act in 2009 and 2010. Minus the passing-the-bill part, that was President Bill Clinton, Democrats and ‘Hillarycare’ in 1993 and 1994 too.”
“Now imagine a bill that’s even more unpopular, and you have House Republicans’ health care legislation in 2017, the American Health Care Act. The bill is aimed at repealing and replacing parts of the ACA. It’s polling worse than the ACA and the Clinton effort, and history suggests that it could have disastrous consequences for the GOP.”
“The Republican plan to replace Obamacare — backed vehemently by President Trump and Speaker Paul Ryan — continued to bleed support from moderate House members just hours before an expected vote,” Politico reports.
“An effort to woo conservatives hatched late Wednesday appeared to backfire with other factions in the House Republican conference, and the growing rebellion threatens to derail Trump’s guarantee that he will repeal and replace the seven-year-old health care law.”
The Hill: “GOP centrists in the House are fleeing from their party’s Obamacare repeal-and-replace legislation.”
GOP leaders can have no more than 22 defections from Republicans.
A few whip counts:
House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) “apologized to members of his panel Thursday for not informing Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat, before going public with allegations that Trump transition messages were inadvertently intercepted by U.S. intelligence agencies,” Politico reports.
A committee aide said that Nunes apologized “for not sharing information about the documents he saw with the minority before going public” and that “he pledged to work with them on this issue.”
Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) announced he would oppose Judge Neil Gorsuch’s appointment to the Supreme Court “and join other Democrats in filibustering the nomination, making it likely that the judge will struggle to find the support needed to clear a 60-vote procedural hurdle,” the Washington Post reports.
Schumer said Gorsuch “was unable to sufficiently convince me that he’d be an independent check” on President Trump and is “not a neutral legal mind but someone with a deep-seated conservative ideology.”
First Read: “The way to understand this possible deal on Essential Health Benefits is that there are more gettable votes from the right for Trump/Ryan. But while this deal might increase the chances for passage, it might not come today. After all, there’s no been no CBO score on any new changes. And, of course, there hasn’t been enough time to read any revised bill. Don’t be surprised if there’s a delay to get the rest of these conservatives on board.”
An 19-year-old dual US-Israeli citizen has been arrested on suspicion of standing behind most of a series of bomb and other threats to Jewish communities ranging from the US, Europe, Australia and New Zealand over the past six months, the Jerusalem Post reports.