With a hat-tip to Mark Twain, reports of the death of the Republican health-care bill have been greatly, vastly, even bigly exaggerated. What we are witnessing isn’t a legislative demise, but the rebirth of a long-lost Washington concept: politics.
From the moment Speaker Paul Ryan unveiled his ObamaCare repeal-and-replace bill, the media have declared it a doomed project. The newspapers have run out of synonyms for division, disunity, discord, conflict, struggle, mess. Since the only thing the media enjoy more than bashing Republicans is helping Republicans bash each other, the cable stations have offered a nonstop loop of a handful of GOP naysayers and grandstanders (cue Rand Paul) who wish the bill ill.
Perhaps the talking heads can be excused for their dim outlook. The Obama administration marked one of the more dysfunctional and destructive periods in Washington—eight years of threats, executive rule, noncommunication and opposition politics. So it is undoubtedly confusing for some people suddenly to watch an honest-to-goodness legislative process, with all its negotiating, horse-trading and consensus-building.
Under prior management, Nancy Pelosi did her thing, Harry Reid did his thing, President Obama did his thing, and the three tried not to talk if at all possible. The Obama legislative affairs team couldn’t have found Capitol Hill with a map.
Today’s negotiations over the health bill feature a White House that is working hand-in-hand with congressional leaders to get to yes. Even as the critics looped on cable TV, the Trump administration was working with House leaders on a substantive amendment to the bill to address conservative concerns before the legislation hits the floor.
Vice President Mike Pence held a listening session Wednesday with the Republican Study Committee, an influential bloc of 170 House conservatives. President Trump met last week with conservative activists. Sources confirm daily telephone round robins among Mr. Ryan, Mitch McConnell, President Trump, Mr. Pence, White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, and Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price.
One sign of progress: Rep. Mark Meadows (of the Freedom Caucus) and Sen. Ted Cruz (of Cruz-Still-For-President) penned a joint op-ed Thursday for this newspaper’s online edition, laying out their demands for the health-care bill. These two super-critics have not only refused to walk away from the negotiating table but are positioning themselves potentially to take credit for changes.
President Obama disdained Congress and didn’t want to legislate. He waited to see if he liked what his Democratic underlings brought him. Today veterans of the legislative process are professing admiration for the way Mr. Trump is handling this deal. CONTINUE AT SITE