With a hat-tip to Mark Twain, reports of the death of the Republican health-care bill have been greatly, vastly, even bigly exaggerated. What we are witnessing isn’t a legislative demise, but the rebirth of a long-lost Washington concept: politics.
From the moment Speaker Paul Ryan unveiled his ObamaCare repeal-and-replace bill, the media have declared it a doomed project. The newspapers have run out of synonyms for division, disunity, discord, conflict, struggle, mess. Since the only thing the media enjoy more than bashing Republicans is helping Republicans bash each other, the cable stations have offered a nonstop loop of a handful of GOP naysayers and grandstanders (cue Rand Paul) who wish the bill ill.
Perhaps the talking heads can be excused for their dim outlook. The Obama administration marked one of the more dysfunctional and destructive periods in Washington—eight years of threats, executive rule, noncommunication and opposition politics. So it is undoubtedly confusing for some people suddenly to watch an honest-to-goodness legislative process, with all its negotiating, horse-trading and consensus-building.
Under prior management, Nancy Pelosi did her thing, Harry Reid did his thing, President Obama did his thing, and the three tried not to talk if at all possible. The Obama legislative affairs team couldn’t have found Capitol Hill with a map.
Today’s negotiations over the health bill feature a White House that is working hand-in-hand with congressional leaders to get to yes. Even as the critics looped on cable TV, the Trump administration was working with House leaders on a substantive amendment to the bill to address conservative concerns before the legislation hits the floor.