Earlier this week, the Senate passed a resolution amending the Title X Family Planning Grant Program to allow states to withhold family planning funds from going to Planned Parenthood and other organizations that provide reproductive health services. The program, which allocates money for counseling, contraception and prenatal care, cannot be used for abortion services under previous law. The measure, which had already been passed in the House, sought to go even further and restrict any (Title X) grant money from going to any clinic providing these services.
Republican Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski joined with Senate Democrats in opposing the measure, leaving the Senate tied with a 50-50 vote count. Vice President Mike Pence, who is constitutionally designated the ‘President of the Senate’ and is entitled to break ties in the chamber, cast a vote in favor of the misguided measure, allowing it to pass.
The Supreme Court confirmation fight also escalated in the Senate this week, with 34 of the chamber’s 48 Senate Democrats lining up to filibuster President Trump’s conservative nominee, federal judge Neil Gorsuch. Some Democrats cautioned against moving forward with the nomination while some of the President’s campaign associates are currently under federal investigation, while others were concerned by Senate Republicans’ refusal to consider Judge Merrick Garland’s nomination last year. Though judicial confirmations typically require a consensus 60-vote majority to limit floor debate and confirm a nominee, Senate Republicans are considering a ‘nuclear option’ that would amend Senate rules to confirm Judge Gorsuch by simple majority (51 votes). The Senate Judiciary committee plans to vote on the nomination on Monday, and a full vote before the Senate is expected by week’s end.
Finally, tensions between the conservative House Freedom Caucus and President Trump continued to escalate following last week’s failed attempt to hold a vote on the American Health Care Act. President Trump singled out the caucus in a string of tweets, accusing them of hurting the Republican agenda. The back and forth escalated further when the President singled out Members of Congress by name for obstructing the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
In a major defeat to both the White House and House Republicans, the American Health Care Act sustained a fatal blow today.
Despite an intense 24 hours of negotiations, House Republican members continued to defect in opposition to the bill. Ultimately this afternoon, Speaker Ryan moved to withdraw their health care reform plan just minutes before the House was scheduled to begin voting.
The chorus of resistance from nurses, providers, and patients from all across the country made this victory over this harmful bill possible. Thank you for your leadership and for your members’ engagement in this fight.
Following an intense 72 hours of negotiations, House Republican leadership today delayed votes on their signature ACA replacement bill, the American Health Care Act (AHCA).
The chorus of resistance from nurses, providers, patients, consumers, and health systems has slowed consideration of this harmful bill. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office also announced on Thursday that this bill would result in 52 million uninsured by 2026, further bolstering the case against the bill. Please continue encouraging your members to contact their members of congress to express opposition to this bill. Click here to see the alert that we sent out earlier today.
Without the requisite votes to pass in the House as written, the Republican leadership moved Wednesday and Thursday to appease their conservative colleagues by promising to add provisions that would strip ‘Essential Health Benefits’ from existing law.
The current Essential Health Benefits (EHB) requirement imposes a baseline of consumer protections and benefits coverage, including mandated coverage for the following:
- Outpatient care
- Emergency room trips
- In-hospital care
- Pregnancy, maternity and newborn care
- Mental health and substance abuse disorder services
- Prescription drugs
- Preventative services (including vaccines, mammograms, etc.)
With continued defections from the House Freedom Caucus and eroding support from moderate Republicans, it became clear that the bill did not have the votes to pass this evening.
House Republican leadership is considering additional changes to shore up support, and could bring up the AHCA up for a vote in the coming days. With the repeal of Essential Health Benefits and the possibility of additional changes that further erode protections in the individual markets, ANA continues to have significant concerns over the AHCA bill.