North Carolina Republican Ted Budd announced Tuesday that he is voting against the American Health Care Act, scheduled for a vote on the House floor Thursday — less than two hours after he joined House Republicans meeting with President Donald Trump.
“As currently written, I cannot support the American Health Care Act,” said the congressman, who lists his occupations as farmer and gun store owner. The AHCA is supported by Speaker Paul Ryan (R.-WI) and his leadership team.
Trump made a serious pitch to the members, but House Republicans still see the bill as the speaker’s own.
Budd is a conservative, but not a member of the House Freedom Caucus. The HFC, as the conservative bloc in the House, is leading the fight against the RyanCare bill. Ryan needs 216 votes for his amendment to Obamacare to pass, but the HFC has at least 25 GOP votes of the 237 Republicans in the House–enough to defeat the bill.
Losing Budd is a big hit for the leadership’s whip team. The congressman was pressured heavily even before the president’s visit, as the speaker tries to isolate conservatives from the actual members of the House Freedom Caucus.
In the recent past, conservatives have delivered more than 60 votes against leadership bills, so that GOP leaders have needed to reach out to House Democrats for support, in effect blocking out conservatives, preferring to make deals with Democrats. This time, House Democrats are content to see RyanCare fail.
A Capitol Hill source familiar with Budd’s thinking told Breitbart News that the congressman was waiting for last minute amendments to see if leadership was willing to move closer to a clean repeal of Obamacare. When the “manager’s amendments” were announced last night, the congressman decided that leadership was not serious about repeal, but was really looking to shore up Obamacare for the long haul.
“This bill leaves the structure of Obamacare in place and does not provide the relief that North Carolina families need from high premiums,” the congressman said.
“I am completely committed to repealing Obamacare and do not think that Congress should take a recess until we have done so,” he said.
For the last three political cycles, it has become a rite of passage for House Republicans to vote to repeal the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the legislation that created Obamacare. As a freshman, Budd was not in Congress when all Republicans in the House and Senate voted to pass the full Obamacare repeal in 2015.
Capitol Hill conservatives expected the Republican leadership to reintroduce the 2015 bill, which was written and sponsored by Rep. Tom Price (R.-GA), then the chairman of the House Budget Committee, now the man leading Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services. Instead, Ryan crafted his own RyanCare bill in private working groups with insurance industry representatives, congressional staffers, and selected congressmen.