The Latest: House hard-liners still firm against health bill

March 22, 2017
Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 22, 2017, during an event marking seven years since former President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law. Standing left is California Gov. Jerry Brown. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the Republican health care overhaul (all times local):

1:35 p.m.

Several members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus say they are standing firm in opposition to the Republican health care bill despite heavy lobbying by President Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan.

Republican Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina told reporters on Wednesday there were not enough votes to pass the bill on Thursday. He said the best thing to do is postpone the vote and rework the bill.

A spokeswoman for the conservative group said on Twitter that there are more than 25 “no” votes and Republican leaders should “start over.”


11:50 a.m.

Republican Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas has opened a House committee hearing saying the health care overhaul that was signed into law seven years ago “has failed the American people.”

Sessions says former President Barack Obama promised that his health overhaul would mean more choice, more competition and lower costs for Americans.

But Sessions says the premiums have increased 25 percent this year on the health exchanges where people shop for coverage and that millions of Americans had to give up health plans they liked.

Sessions serves as chairman of the House Rules Committee, which is determining the conditions under which the House will vote on Republican-led health care legislation Thursday.

Sessions says the Republican bill empowers individuals and families to make their own health care decisions.


11:40 a.m.

President Donald Trump says “we’ll see what happens” if the House bid to repeal and replace Obamacare fails.

Trump was asked Wednesday if he will keep fighting for his House-backed plan if it falls short of the majority.

Trump, who was heading a panel of women in health care with the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Seema Verma, responded: “we’ll see what happens.”

Trump has increasingly argued that the repeal and replacement of former President Barack Obama’s health care law is a necessary step along the road to other parts of his first-year agenda.

While Republicans have long unified in pushing for repeal of Obamacare, it was not united behind an alternative.


10:50 a.m.

Former Vice President Joe Biden is defending Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act and insisting it gave millions of Americans “peace of mind.”

Biden joined Democrats for a rally on the steps of the Capitol on Wednesday. He said law, which Obama signed seven years ago, allowed Americans to go to bed at night and not worry what would happen to a loved one if they got sick. He said the Republican bill wouldn’t pass.

Short of the votes, Republican leaders and President Donald Trump are pressing some two dozen conservatives to back the measure, with a vote slated for Thursday.

California Gov. Jerry Brown said the GOP bill would harm millions of Californians.

Brown said, “This is a dangerous bill, it’s written by people who don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.”


9 a.m.

President Donald Trump and House leaders revved up pressure Wednesday on balky conservatives and other Republican lawmakers as crunch time approaches on the party’s health care overhaul bill, a drive GOP leaders concede they can’t afford to lose.

A day before the House planned votes on the measure, Trump and top Republicans continued hunting support for what would be a significant achievement for his young presidency. But underscoring the bill’s uncertain fate, a senior administration official said that 20 to 25 House Republicans remained opposed or undecided. That’s a grave figure since united Democratic opposition means the measure crashes if 22 GOP lawmakers vote “no.”

Trump tweeted: “Big day for health care. Working hard!”