Sunday, March 26, 2017
Poor Leadership Haunts Republicans
Can Republicans govern if they can’t keep a promise they’ve made for 7 years?
House Speaker Ryan says pulled health care bill is a ‘set back’ 2:35
“We were a 10-year opposition party, where being against things was
easy to do,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan, faced with the biggest loss
of his career. “And now in three months’ time we tried to go to a
governing party. We will get there, but we weren’t there today.”
Ryan got his job after House Speaker John Boehner stepped down, often pressed by a raucous conservative wing to take a harder line. But though conservative members groused about Ryan’s handling of the legislation – saying he had boxed out various factions, many expressed confidence Friday that he’d retain his seat – for practical reasons, as well as political.
WE WERE A 10-YEAR OPPOSITION PARTY,
BEING AGAINST THINGS WAS EASY TO DO.
NOW IN THREE MONTHS’ TIME WE TRIED TO GO TO A GOVERNING PARTY. WE WILL GET THERE, BUT WE WEREN’T THERE TODAY.House Speaker Paul Ryan
“I don’t think another member of our conference wants that job,” said
Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., who backed the health care bill and remains
re bill, lawmakers “are solidly behind Speaker Ryan,” Collins said.
Ryan has “almost unanimous support” in the Republican conference,
said Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla., who voted for the bill in committee
but refused to say how he would vote on the floor. “No one could do a
better job of leading House Republicans. We believe in him, this
doesn’t change anything.”
Trump, too, praised Ryan for his efforts.
“He worked very hard,” Trump said, citing “lots of different groups, lots
of factions and there’s been a long history of liking and disliking within
the Republican Party long before I got here. Certainly there’s a history
but I really think Paul worked hard.”
President Trump says he is moving on from the congressional health care bill after
Speaker Paul Ryan failed to gather enough votes to pass it through the House of
Representatives. In a statement after the bill's failure was announced, the president
Moderate Republican Rep. Mike Coffman of Colorado said the mood
was somber as Ryan spoke and delivered the news: The vote was
cancelled, not just delayed.
“The speaker was wise to do that,” Coffman said. “I think it would have
been fairly combative, sort of internecine warfare.”
Coffman said it was clear Ryan didn’t want to force members to take a
vote on the measure, despite Trump’s call for them to do so. “What the
speaker said very clearly is, ‘Look, it’s a controversial bill in a lot of
districts, so why put people on the record for something that’s not going
to happen? What’s the point?’”
Republicans sought to play down the effect of failing to deliver on their
first effort. But the financial services firm KBW warned investors that
collapse of the bill could illustrate an inability to govern, making the
prospect for tax reform iffy, as well as increasing the chance of a
government shutdown in April and a “messy fight” over raising the
debt ceiling in this fall.
The bill’s demise will complicate efforts to overhaul the tax code –
a priority for Trump, but a hugely ambitious ask for even a well-
I DON’T THINK ANOTHER MEMBER OF OUR CONFERENCE WANTS THAT JOB.Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., on House Speaker Paul Ryan’s future
“It’s a big hit, it makes it very difficult to do the tax reform that a lot
of us think that we need to do,” said Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla.
By failing to pass the Ryan healthcare bill, the math got more
complicated for any tax reform that neither raises nor lowers the
deficit, thus adding to the same sort of political complexities that felled
the replacement bill.
Idaho GOP Rep. Mike Simpson said he didn’t think the collapse of the
health care debate would hurt the party’s efforts in the long term.
“I don’t really think it affects the rest of the agenda,” Simpson said. “I
think we still want to do tax reform, but we’re going to run into
hallenges. ... I suspect it will not be as ugly as this, but it will be a debate.
That’s the way this system is supposed to work. Sometimes you win.
Sometimes you lose.”
Ryan has another concern as he moves forward with the House agenda:
Some of the most endangered members of his conference backed the
health care bill in committee votes before it was pulled from a vote on
the House floor, meaning they could be vulnerable to attacks over the
unpopular legislation even though it didn’t come up for a full House vote.
One poll released this week found only 17 percent of voters backed the
GOP’s bill, compared with 56 percent who opposed it.
Democrats said Friday that they plan to target more than a dozen
Republican incumbents over the health care vote – attacks that could
make these GOP lawmakers less inclined to take political risks in the future.
“Their constituents deserve answers as to why they were voting ‘yes’ on
this bill, which was horrible then, horrible today,” said Rep. Ben
Ray Lujan, D-N.M., who is charge of the House Democrats’ political
operation. “We’ll continue to take this fight to the American people.”
The list of Republicans who voted for the bill in committee includes
Reps. Dave Reichert, R-Wash., Curbelo, R-Fla., and Diaz-Balart, R-Fla.,
“Congratulations to Speaker Ryan for making fourteen vulnerable House
Republicans walk the plank on a disastrous repeal bill that did not even
make it to the floor,” said Tyler Law, spokesman for the House Democrats’
political arm, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Democrats insisted they took no pleasure in the opposition party’s
contortions, but reacted gleefully to news of the bill’s withdrawal, saying
if Republicans couldn’t pass their top legislative priority, they’d struggle
to unite behind anything else.
Republicans could still regroup to pass something like tax reform, but the
odds looked dimmer after Friday’s disappointment.
“Clearly this shows that if they couldn’t even get their first major agenda
piece done, that does not portend too well for the future,” said Rep. Brendan
Democrats were already looking to 2018, believing they had a case to make,
regardless of the outcome of the vote. Failing to pass the legislation opens
Republicans to charges that they broke their promises, but Democrats said
that passage of the bill may have meant millions lost insurance.
“They may feel damned if they don’t,” said Rep. Joe Crowley, D-N.Y.,
chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. “We believe they’ll be even
more damned if they do.”
Before the collapse on the House floor, few members wanted to consider
a loss, but insisted Congress would move on.
“If it fails the president is going to move on,” said Rep. Roger Williams,
R-Texas. “That’s what you have to do in business. If you fail, you move on,
you don’t worry about it. He’s going to move on and we’ll have tax reform
on our plate.”
Williams cut Ryan slack, calling his job difficult, noting that when “you get
435 or 242 superstars that have their own thought about how things ought
to be done … it’s hard to rally and that’s one thing you’ve got to do is talk to
But a number of Republicans complained that Ryan – like previous House Speaker John Boehner, who lost his seat amid a conservative revolt – failed to include them in deliberations. Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., who opposed the bill, blasted the lack of committee hearings and complained that not a single person testified on the legislation.
“Republicans have a great ability to govern, you just have to basically let them do their jobs,” Amodei said. “I don’t know whose call it is because nobody called me and asked for my opinion, but if that was (Ryan’s) call then there’s probably some hindsight here.”
A loss should force some serious soul searching, said Rep.. Paul Gosar, R-Az., a member of the House Freedom Caucus who opposed the bill. He too, charged that debate had been “stifled” and conservatives shunted aside.
“If you’re a good leader, you’re going to look at where the process went wrong and how do I change to make it right,” he said of Ryan. He noted Congress doesn’t have much room to maneuver.
“We have so many inflection points coming our way,” he said. “We’ve got big issues on the line and it’s time to do it right so you don’t keep kicking the can down the road.”
But as the health care debate illustrated, by catering to the conservative members of his caucus, Ryan risks losing the more moderate members, some of whom represent districts won by Hillary Clinton.
Still, Ryan insisted there was a way forward, telling reporters minutes after pulling the bill, “we’re going to move on with the rest of our agenda because we have big ambitious plans.”
ALEX ROARTY, LINDSAY WISE, MICHAEL DOYLE, KEVIN G. HALL AND ROB HOTAKAINEN AND CONTRIBUTED TO THIS REPORT.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi held a press briefing after President Donald Trump pulled the GOP lead health care bill. When asked if congress is gridlocked Pelosi said, "it's our responsibility to find common ground," but that "it also depends on the
House Republicans withdraw health care bill, Trump blames Democrats