Friday’s crushing defeat for House Republicans on their long-pledged health care overhaul left one mystery for constituents of Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Auburn.
Would he have voted yes or no?
Reichert had backed the GOP plan in a House Ways and Means Committee vote on March 9. But he switched to “undecided” this week, citing changes in the bill as it headed toward a scheduled vote on the House floor.
On Friday, after the bill was yanked by GOP leaders who couldn’t amass enough votes to pass it, Reichert issued a bland statement.
It said his goal was “a patient-centered, high-quality health care system that offers more choices at an affordable price,” but that Congress “could not come to a consensus” on the GOP plan.
Asked how he would have voted if the measure had come to the floor, Reichert spokeswoman Breanna Deutsch responded: “There was not a vote and now Congress is moving forward.”
Others in the state’s congressional delegation took clearer stands.
Among Republicans, U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler of Vancouver had said she planned a “no” vote, arguing that the GOP plan, known as the American Health Care Act (AHCA) did not do enough to protect poor children dependent on Medicaid.
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane, was part of House Speaker Paul Ryan’s leadership team and had supported the bill, as did Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Sunnyside.
Democrats, meanwhile, were united in opposition, and they were crowing Friday about the demise of the AHCA, the GOP’s plan to replace the 2009 Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Seattle, called Friday’s events “a huge victory” for the millions of people who flooded congressional switchboards or spoke out at town halls against the Republican plan.
She pointed to a Congressional Budget Office analysis which estimated the proposal would have left 24 million fewer people insured by 2026 while cutting taxes for wealthy Americans.
Jayapal said the health-care defeat was a stain on President Donald Trump: “He’s starting to look like a president who can’t get anything done.”
In a statement, Rep. Adam Smith, D-Bellevue, said the GOP defeat “laid bare” the lack of a viable Republican alternative to the ACA, despite years of symbolic votes to repeal that law.
“They made up claims and misled Americans, all the while pretending they had the answer on health care,” Smith said. “Today, by making their voices heard, the American people called Republicans’ bluff.”
Meanwhile, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) vowed to make the AHCA stick to Reichert when he’s up for re-election in 2018.
“The Republican repeal bill ended in a complete and utter failure, but it doesn’t change the reality that Representative Reichert cast a critical vote for this destructive plan,” DCCC spokesperson Evan Lukaske said in a news release.
Reichert, a former King County sheriff, has represented the 8th Congressional District since 2005. While he’s been targeted by Democrats before, he has not faced serious opposition for the last few election cycles.
Still, Reichert sent a fundraising appeal to supporters on Thursday, warning “the Democrats and their special interest allies on the Left are gunning for us.”