The battle is finally over. Paul Ryan just admitted defeat and postponed the vote on his American Health Care Act, better known as Obamacare-Lite. Rand Paul’s tireless month long crusade across network news has finally paid off. His work whipping opposition votes with the House Freedom Caucus and the coalition he built in the Senate with Mike Lee and Ted Cruz ensured Obamacare-Lite’s defeat. In the face of that certainty, Paul Ryan pulled the bill from the voting schedule in order to avoid an embarrassing loss. Rand Paul won the battle, but there is still a war on to repeal and replace Obamacare.
Although the vote on American Health Care Act has been postponed that doesn’t mean the bill is dead for good. Paul Ryan has just granted himself an extension to do more lobbying. House Leadership and President Trump himself have been desperately whipping votes this past week attempting to convince more conservatives to give up on their principles. It obviously didn’t go well. No matter how many changes they make to Obamacare-Lite, it’s still Obamacare-Lite. There is too much of the original legislation left over for conservatives to get on board. Unless Paul Ryan offers a separate clean repeal, no amount of lobbying will get conservatives to back the AHCA.
With the vote postponed the Speaker has a limited amount of time to whip the votes he needs. Given how unwilling to compromise Paul Ryan has been so far it’s possible the bill will be abandoned in favor of a fresh start. That will be an even bigger step forward for Rand Paul’s own Obamacare replacement bill. If Paul Ryan has to delay any further the House may be forced to look at other bills. That would mean that Rand Paul’s bill, which has been endorsed by the House Freedom Caucus, could make it to the floor for a vote soon.
Either way, the tides are certainly turning in favor of the conservative opposition. Republicans are proving they can’t be whipped by the establishment as easily as the Democrats were when their leadership rammed through Obamacare. If Rand Paul and his allies can keep this momentum going we just might see a full repeal of Obamacare and a free market replacement after all.