There is a large protest going on this afternoon outside the D.C. office of U.S. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-11), in the marble hallways of the Capitol Building (please see link to video below).
“What do we want?”
“When do we want it?
Frelinghuysen is one of two Republican congressmen from New Jersey apparently set to vote in favor of repealing the Affordable Care Act, signed into law by President Barack Obama.
U.S. Rep. Tom MacArthur is the other GOP congressman who says – right now – that he plans to vote yes.
That protest occurred as simultaneously on the statehouse steps in Trenton, Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-32) joined New Jersey Citizen Action activists to protest the repeal of the ACA.
On Tuesday, Frelinghuysen put out a statement regarding his position, and that statement still stands, said his spokesman Steve Wilson.
“The reality is that Obamacare is failing to make health care affordable and is crumbling, with skyrocketing premiums, soaring deductibles, and fewer choices for patients and families. The law is wreaking havoc on the job market, especially for small businesses. We must make positive changes – because doing nothing is not an option!
“As I have stated, the current legislative proposal is not perfect,” he added. “But it is moving in the right direction to provide quality, affordable health insurance for all Americans. the legislative process is continuing. I am actively reviewing the latest changes to the bill and expect continued improvements as it moves forward.”
According to InsiderNJ’s D.C. source, the bill is currently “same day rule,” meaning that the House Rules Committee did not set the rules for debate yesterday but is allowing rules to be set on the same day that the house would consider the bill. They recessed around 11:30 p.m. last night after 13-plus hours of debate. The Rules Committee was on the floor this morning and Chairman Sessions said it needs more time. They gaveled out and there is no sense of when they will come back in to set the rules of debate. But they could reconvene, set the rules, and then have a full floor vote all today – hence “same day rule” status.
Debate of AHCA was scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. this morning, with the vote scheduled for 7 p.m. Obviously, since the rules are not yet set, debate cannot begin. It is important to know, once they start floor debate of AHCA, they must hold the vote. Therefore, if debate of AHCA – not debate of AHCA Rules – starts, then they will have to hold the vote.
Last night, Rule Committee also said that “a healthcare bill” could be heard any time until Tuesday. Leadership is telling staff that they are reserving the right to bring the bill to the floor with one hour notice any time between today and Sunday. Should the House move into next week, there are implications for the Senate schedule.
The Freedom Caucus is currently meeting with the Trump Administration. The newest bargaining chip is the elimination of essential health benefits (EHBs), which activists, including New Jersey Citizen action, say has dangerous implications for hospitals, health systems and post-acute providers. The list of ten EHBs under the ACA include rehabilitation services, maternity care, mental health services, prescription drugs and more. Millions of New Jerseyeans, even those who were covered prior to the ACA, will be impacted by this should it be included. Should the EHBs be included, the Senate Parliamentarian may not allow it, since the AHCA is a reconciliation bill. Also, the elimination of EHBs might secure the Freedom Caucus in the House but lose even more moderates in both the House and the Senate.
Speaker Paul Ryan was supposed to have press conference at 9, but he has postponed it to 3:30 p.m.
The vote counts are moving faster than even the media can keep up. There are eight different news outlets reporting anything from 21 Republicans voting “no” to 35 Republicans voting “no.”
As reported, the New Jersey delegation commitments include all Democrats and Republican Congressmen Lance, Smith and LoBiondo voting against the bill. Earlier this week, Congressman MacArthur stated that he would support the bill.
So did Frelinghuysen.
He’s in a tough spot.
Based on his actions here, the leafy-district congressman faces the possibility of a motivated and financially well-connected Democratic challenger in 2018. He also has to worry about fierce movement conservatives, among them Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-26), who expect him to vote no.