California’s House Republicans are crucial to the healthcare vote. More than half are undecided
After working feverishly to find more members to support their bill to roll back the Affordable Care Act, House Republican leaders have scheduled a vote for Thursday.
And House Majority Leader and Bakersfield Rep. Kevin McCarthy said Wednesday night that Republicans “have the votes” to pass the controversial legislation.
News outlets that have polled the entire GOP caucus say they’ve found 16 to 22 Republicans who will vote against it. That’s focused attention on roughly two dozen undecided members — eight of them Californians who have been reluctant to support the bill or at least state their position on it.
Democrats have lined up pretty firmly against the bill, meaning the GOP can only lose up to 22 members.
A vote scheduled on an earlier version of the bill in March was canceled at the last minute. Changes in the new version made to placate more conservative Republicans, such as allowing states to scrap protections for people with preexisting conditions, have driven away moderate GOP members.
If Republicans don’t end up voting Thursday, it’ll probably get even more difficult to pass an overhaul bill, because congressional rules mean they’ll have extra hurdles to overcome.
Here is where the Republican members stand now:
The eight members who are still undecided include four who represent districts that Hillary Clinton won in November, and are being targeted by Democrats in 2018.
Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford) (Gary Kazanjian / For the Los Angeles Times)
(Hanford), who hails from one of those districts, was undecided on the first bill, and said the changes haven’t helped his original concerns. He’s hearing a lot of worries from people back home.
“It’s the Medicaid. Medicaid is the issue,” Valadao said Tuesday.
The bill would gradually end federal funding for millions of people who qualified for Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Valadao represents one of the California districts whose residents benefited the most from the expansion.
Rep. Steve Knight (Palmdale) said he’s worried people with preexisting conditions will have a hard time finding coverage under the new bill.
“We’re still talking about preexisting conditions; we’re still talking about several of the issues that have us concerned with the healthcare bill,” Knight said, adding that he’s hearing from constituents who support the bill as well as those who oppose it. “We’re trying to listen to everyone, but in the end, we’re also trying to see what’s going to be the better plan.”
Reps. Ken Calvert (Corona) and Dana Rohrabacher (Costa Mesa) both supported the earlier version of the bill, but haven’t signed on to the changes.
Reps. Ed Royce (Fullerton), Paul Cook (Yucca Valley) and Doug LaMalfa (Richvale), who were undecided on the previous version, are also still weighing this one.
“It seems like a moving target, so I’m still considering what all the latest pieces are here,” LaMalfa said. “I’m just being deliberate about it. I’m not going to put my name out on it yes or no because … why not wait until all the information’s in at the final moment?”
Some, like Rep. Darrell Issa, were less forthcoming.
The Vista Republican’s staff told the Los Angeles Times that he’s still undecided.
Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Turlock) (Bill Clark / CQ Roll Call)
Just one Republican in the delegation, Rep. Jeff Denham (Turlock), has said he plans to oppose the bill. He hasn’t given a reason.
Denham is in one of the districts that backed Clinton in 2016, and had said he was undecided on the original version of the bill.
Five Republican members of the California delegation support the bill.
Among those trying to sway other GOP members is House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Bakersfield), who told colleagues in a closed-door meeting Tuesday morning that it is time to vote on the bill, several news outlets reported. He said a vote could happen before the end of the week, when the House leaves for another recess.
Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Elk Grove) (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
Other supporters are Reps. Tom McClintock (Elk Grove), Mimi Walters (Irvine), Duncan Hunter (Alpine) and Devin Nunes (Tulare). They all approved of the original bill.
Walters, whose staff said she would have supported the original bill, is the only one in a district being targeted by Democrats to come out in favor of this version of the bill.
HERE’S WHERE THE CALIFORNIA REPUBLICANS STAND
RepresentativeStance Rep. Ken Calvert (Corona)Undecided Rep. Paul Cook (Yucca Valley)Undecided Rep. Jeff Denham (Turlock)No Rep. Duncan Hunter (Alpine)Yes Rep. Darrell Issa (Vista)Undecided Rep. Steve Knight (Palmdale)Undecided Rep. Doug LaMalfa (Richvale)Undecided Rep. Kevin McCarthy (Bakersfield)Yes Rep. Tom McClintock (Elk Grove)Yes Rep. Devin Nunes (Tulare)Yes Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (Costa Mesa)Undecided Rep. Ed Royce (Fullerton)Undecided Rep. David Valadao (Hanford)Undecided Rep. Mimi Walters (Irvine)Yes
Already a subscriber? Thank you for your support. If you are not, please consider subscribing today. Get full access to our signature journalism for just 99 cents for the first four weeks.
May 3, 5:35 p.m.: This article was updated with news that a vote has been scheduled.
This article was originally published May 2 at 10:45 p.m.