Arizona GOP representatives split on health care support as vote is delayed

Mar 23, 2017, 4:48 AM | Updated: 7:58 pm
Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Prescott.  (Photo by Emily Zentner/Cronkite News)...
Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Prescott. (Photo by Emily Zentner/Cronkite News)
(Photo by Emily Zentner/Cronkite News)

PHOENIX — As the vote was delayed for a Republican health care bill set to replace Obamacare, GOP representatives from Arizona were split on whether to support the legislation.

The Associated Press reported House GOP leaders postponed the vote on health care repeal bill Thursday afternoon.

Lawmakers had adjourned just before midnight on Wednesday with no definitive plan in sight.

CNN reported that House Speaker Paul Ryan held a meeting with moderate Republicans on Wednesday night, but to no avail, saying “it was clear leadership had no good news to share.”

Reports circulated that House Republicans would meet at 9 a.m. Eastern Time on Thursday to discuss the status of the bill, which was currently opposed by 29 representatives.

On Thursday, Rep. Andy Biggs joined Rep. Paul Gosar as the only Republican representatives from Arizona to acknowledge that they can not support the legislation.

In a statement, Biggs said he could not vote for the most recent draft of the act and “cannot support anything less than a clean repeal of Obamacare.”

“In its current configuration, the AHCA keeps the framework of Obamacare in place and continues to provide massive federal subsidies,” the statement continued. “It does not fully address funding for our high-risk population, nor does it lead to the lower premiums Americans are expecting for economic relief.”

Steven Smith, a Gosar spokesman, said “As of right now, Rep. Gosar is leaning no. However, the congressman believes that the bill is still a work in progress and will continue working with GOP leadership to incorporate his concerns.”

Gosar has introduced legislation of his own in an effort to restore competition in the health care market with H.R. 372, which passed through the House with a 416-7 vote on Wednesday.

Reps. Andy Biggs and Trent Franks have expressed concern with the bill, while Rep. Martha McSally has voiced her support. Rep. David Schweikert is the only Arizona GOP representative to fully support the bill.

The growing opposition to the health care bill is a problem for Republicans, who can only afford to lose 21 GOP lawmakers and still win passage in the House. If they lose 22, the bill would likely tie and would still fail.

No Democratic representatives are expected to support the bill.

But the White House remains optimistic that the act will pass the House on Thursday, telling reporters that senior officials in the Trump administration have been working to win over members of the Freedom Caucus.

The caucus, which is made up of 29 conservative members, has largely opposed the American Health Care Act due to its proposed cuts to Medicaid.

Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, the chair of the Freedom Caucus, told reporters Wednesday there were not enough votes to pass the bill as it stands, but said changes need to be made to the “underlying bill before we vote on it.”

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Arizona GOP representatives split on health care support as vote is delayed