Quick Takes: House May Have to Vote on Obamacare Repeal Again

A round-up of news that caught my eye today.

 

* House Speaker Paul Ryan was so anxious to put a few points on the board that he had the House vote on their Obamacare repeal bill before the CBO scored it. As it turns out, that Rose Garden celebration with Trump afterwards may have been even more premature than many of us thought at the time.

House Speaker Paul Ryan hasn’t yet sent the bill to the Senate because there’s a chance that parts of it may need to be redone, depending on how the Congressional Budget Office estimates its effects. House leaders want to make sure the bill conforms with Senate rules for reconciliation, a mechanism that allows Senate Republicans to pass the bill with a simple majority.

Republicans had rushed to vote on the health bill so the Senate could get a quick start on it, even before the CBO had finished analyzing a series of last-minute changes. The CBO is expected to release an updated estimate next week…

According to several aides and other procedural experts, if Republicans send the bill to the Senate now and the CBO later concludes it doesn’t save at least $2 billion, it would doom the bill and Republicans would have to start their repeal effort all over with a new budget resolution. Congressional rules would likely prevent Republicans from fixing the bill after it’s in the Senate, the aides said.

If Republican leaders hold onto the bill until the CBO report is released, then Ryan and his team could still redo it if necessary. That would require at least one more House vote of some sort.

…reluctant Republicans will once again be forced to decide whether to back it. Only this time, they would also be saddled with the CBO’s latest findings about the bill’s costs and impacts.

* Beyond the problem of having to vote after CBO reports on it’s costs and impacts, here’s something else that might give Ryan a pretty big headache.

* One of the lies that Trump told at his press conference today was, “Obamacare is dead. It’s a fallacy. There is no healthcare.” That is an absurd statement in and of itself. But it is even more disturbing given what Noam Levey reported today.

Health insurers across the country are making plans to dramatically raise Obamacare premiums or exit marketplaces amid growing exasperation with the Trump administration’s erratic management, inconsistent guidance and seeming lack of understanding of basic healthcare issues.

At the same time, state insurance regulators — both Democrat and Republican — have increasingly concluded they cannot count on the Trump administration to help them ensure that consumers will have access to a health plan next year.

The growing frustration with the Trump administration’s management — reflected in letters to state regulators and in interviews with more than two dozen senior industry and government officials nationwide — undercuts a key White House claim that Obamacare insurance marketplaces are collapsing on their own.

Instead, according to many officials, it is the Trump administration that is driving much of the current instability by refusing to commit to steps to keep markets running, such as funding aid for low-income consumers or enforcing penalties for people who go without insurance.

* It looks like Trump is doing the equivalent of getting the old band back together.

President Donald Trump, frustrated by his aides’ handling of the multiple scandals engulfing the White House, is turning to the comfort of his old campaign advisers.

Former officials including Jason Miller, David Bossie and Corey Lewandowski have slid back into the president’s group of advisers as Trump has chafed at the steady stream of damaging leaks and critical blind quotes that have flowed out of the West Wing.

* But wait…I’m sure there’s room for one more.

CNN just reported that a team of outside advisers to the President have been meeting today to bring in more lawyers to help the President in light of the appointment of a special counsel. That is not abnormal…But apparently shepherding this process is Michael Cohen, the President’s longtime “personal lawyer” and Trump Organization fixture who has his own tangled relationship with various Russian and Ukrainian interests, Felix Sater and more.

Remember, he was actually the one who met with Sater and that Ukrainian member of parliament who had a ‘peace plan’ to deliver to Mike Flynn.

* Speaking of Mike Flynn, it looks like Trump has reached out to him, which is a HUGE no-no.

“I just got a message from the president to stay strong,” Flynn said after the meal was over, according to two sources who are close to Flynn and are familiar with the conversation, which took place on April 25…

The sources who spoke to Yahoo News say Flynn did not indicate how Trump had sent the message—whether a written note, a text message, a phone call or some other method. (The White House did not respond to a request for comment.) But the fact that the two men have stayed in contact could raise additional questions about the president’s reported request to former FBI Director James Comey to shut down a federal investigation into the retired Army general…

Any ongoing contacts between Trump and Flynn are likely to be among the matters closely scrutinized by Robert Mueller, the ex-FBI director named late Wednesday as the new Justice Department special counsel in charge of the Russia investigation.

I’m sure that if Trump actually reached out to Flynn, it was to express empathy for an old friend and not simply to encourage him to “stay strong” in keeping his secrets.

And, as they say, if you believe that one…

* Sen. Lindsey Graham emerged from a meeting with Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein with an interesting conclusion that is very likely to be bad news for Michael Flynn, and perhaps others.

“The takeaway I have is that everything he said was that you need to treat this investigation as if it may be a criminal investigation,” Graham told reporters after the briefing from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein…

“It was a counterintelligence investigation before now. It seems to me now to be considered a criminal investigation,” he told reporters.

* An intersting cable news development in the Trump era has been the occasional chyron fact-checking in real time. It happened today during the president’s press conference with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.

* Finally, this is a bold statement from TIME:

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.