Talk about swamp gas.
Nothing has yet been done that replaces Obamacare, despite impressive efforts by Washington’s ruling elected officials to advertise a one-house bill as a victory.
One-house bills do nothing. They get approved by one half of a bicameral body and sent to the other. A measure must match up and win on both sides before a president can sign it.
Even in Albany, where lawmakers try to hype whatever accomplishments they can, it is difficult to remember this level of triumphal celebration by a governor on any one-house bill.
President Donald Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and other GOP lawmakers on Thursday held a sort of Potemkin signing ceremony with nothing to sign.
For photo-op purposes, that didn’t matter. Trump got to act as if it was real, spawning media chatter about “a victory” for the win-starved new president and tales of “how they did it.”
House members who voted for the one-house bill without even reading it — and without detailed assessment of its fiscal or human impact — knew that a final bill might differ in crucial ways once the Senate starts negotiating.
After the House measure survived by an anemic 217-213 vote, Sen. Lindsay Graham signaled how far from fruition the so-called American Health Care Act remains.
“Any bill that has been posted less than 24 hours, going to be debated three or four hours, not scored? Needs to be viewed with suspicion,” Graham (R-S.C.) told reporters.
The time frame on Senate consideration wasn’t immediately clear.
Trump & Co. had clear incentive in wheeling and dealing with the House to push through even a half-baked bill to be rewritten later.
Perhaps this builds momentum for real results. Even if it doesn’t, it can be used to counter the impression that Trump is weak when it comes to pushing through his agenda. In March, he had to withdraw an earlier Trumpcare bill for lack of GOP support.
If anyone’s a winner it seems to be Ryan. Unless Democrats across the United States find a way to punish incumbent candidates over their votes for this controversial bill, any Trumpcare pressure from the White House moves off the House to the Senate.
So far the “out” party seems limited to childishly singing refrains of “Na-na-na-na goodbye” on the House floor.
“I want to thank Paul Ryan,” Trump said from the White House Rose Garden. “He has worked so hard.” Trump suggested pundits had come around to calling Ryan a “genius.”
If he wasn’t quite sucking up, Trump at least seemed leery of alienating the speaker, who can make or break his legislative record. Now we’ll see how health care goes with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky).