WASHINGTON — There was plenty of theater – complete with yelling, singing and chanting – at the Capitol before, during and after the razor-thin 217-213 House vote to repeal and replace parts of Obamacare.
After hours of floor debate during which lawmakers frequently shouted over each other, spurring admonitions and repeated bangs of the gavel, the vote came. When the “yea” votes hit the needed 216 mark to pass yesterday, GOP lawmakers cheered. Democrats countered by waving and singing the refrain “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” — a message to their colleagues across the aisle that voters would punish them come re-election time.
But that was just the beginning of the drama — more is promised to come as House members head to their home districts for a weeklong recess. Yesterday, Democrats telegraphed the message they will take on the road.
“There’s a lot of, shall we say, kabuki here,” Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters. “But the kabuki doesn’t play at home, and we are going to make sure the people understand the inconsistency of it all.”
U.S. Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee, shot back, accusing Democrats of “fear-mongering.”
“You’re just making this stuff up,” Walden said angrily to Democrats, citing their claims that pre-existing coverage would be gutted and premiums would skyrocket under the Republican plan.
The Republicans’ jubilance over the House passage was tempered by a gaggle of reporters in the hallways peppering them with questions about the vote, including whether they were concerned about passing a measure without an evaluation by the Congressional Budget Office.
“I don’t think we should count on scores from any entity whose margin of error is plus or minus 400 percent, so I don’t care what the CBO score is,” said U.S. Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-Texas).
Republicans were also mindful that this victory, despite the cheers and celebratory White House event with GOP lawmakers that followed, could be short-lived.
“My only concern is the U.S. Senate,” Congressman Dave Brat (R-Va.), a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus who GOP leaders worked hard to woo, told reporters with a nervous laugh. “If they come back with any big changes, that’ll make life a little tough.”
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