The American Health Care Act cleared another hurdle on Thursday, and now it’s headed to the Rules Committee before getting a vote on the House floor.
Republicans on the House Budget Committee voted quickly, but not unanimously, on Thursday morning to pass the Republican plan to replace Obamacare. About 30 minutes into a hearing on the bill, the committee voted 19-17 to advance the bill to the Rules Committee and set the stage for a full House vote.
Republicans didn’t represent the same unified front as they had done in the earlier Ways and Means and Energy Committee markups last week. This time, three GOP members of the committee — all part of the conservative House Freedom Caucus — voted against moving the bill.
Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA), Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC), and Rep. Gary Palmer (R-AL), all joined Democrats in offering a “no” vote to the bill, bringing the vote total just short of a tie.
It was an odd coalition for the first roll call vote of the hearing, as Brat, Sanford, and Palmer have criticized the bill for not being conservative enough, while Democrats continue to decry the cuts to Medicaid and safety nets for low-income citizens.
Still, the conservative opposition has long been expected. Brat said he would not vote for the plan in committee prior to the hearing, and the Freedom Caucus has been vocal in its opposition to the bill.
More Republicans on the panel have voiced some concerns about the bill, and acknowledged that it is not comprehensive under the restrictions of the budget reconciliation process that Republicans are attempting to use in the Senate to avoid a Democratic filibuster.
“No one is saying it’s a perfect plan,” Rep. Rob Woodall (R-GA) said. “It’s not even a complete plan.” Even so, enough of those concerns were apparently assuaged for the vote.
The rest of the Budget Committee hearing won’t be another marathon session, akin to the all-night affairs in Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means. Under the rules of the hearing, each party can offer up to seven motions, which, if passed, will be recommended to the Rules Committee, but won’t become permanent changes to the bill.