Can the GOP Govern?

5 minute read

The Republican Party’s signature promise to voters collapsed in dramatic fashion Friday, as their legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare failed by its own hand. The party with unified control of Washington proved to be hopelessly divided. Republicans in the House voted more than 50 times to repeal the bill during the Obama administration, but when the legislation actually stood a prayer of passing the GOP couldn’t get its act together. Now it’s imperiling the entire Republican agenda, with the failure to reach consensus on such a foundational issue calling the question: Can this Republican Party find a way to govern?

Torn between conservative ideologues who didn’t believe the law went far enough in undoing the Affordable Care Act and moderates who worried that the concessions offered to win over those same conservative members were too drastic, the gulf in the Party was too wide to bridge. The White House and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan are laying the blame on the House Freedom Caucus, the group of extremely conservative members who refused to get behind the bill. It’s a familiar complaint, offered by House leadership and bipartisan administrations over the last four years. The group was instrumental in forcing the removal of former Speaker of the House John Boehner.

For President Trump it’s a stunning setback on an issue he always had little interest in addressing. Trump had never been ideological about healthcare—and in one of his books endorsed the notion of universal healthcare. But he embraced it as an issue during the campaign in an effort to fall in line with GOP orthodoxy on the issue, finding it to be a potent talking point on the campaign trail, promising to take action against it on “day one.” Trump had publicly stated his preference would have been to address tax reform and infrastructure before healthcare, but he embraced the strategy because he was convinced of the wisdom of showing his voters he could deliver on a promise—and how accomplishing healthcare reform could provide savings that could be rolled into tax reform.

Now the man who branded himself as the ultimate dealmaker fell short at a pivotal moment in his presidency.The White House is professing a desire to work together with Democrats, but they aren’t exactly rushing to help the beleaguered administration. The prospect for any significant legislative achievement in his first 100 days has expired, and Trump’s new focus on tax reform and infrastructure is made even more difficult by the sense that he lacks political juice.

Here are your must reads:

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President Trump and the GOP Humbled by Health Care Failure
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Steven Brill’s new examination of Trump’s flirtation with a shakeup of the government procurement process [FORTUNE]

Democrats, Buoyed by G.O.P. Health Defeat, See No Need to Offer Hand
As the White House prepares to reach out, they are likely to find an unwilling partner [New York Times]

9 Strategic Mistakes President Trump and Republicans Made on Health Care
TIME’s Philip Elliott on where it went wrong

Trump Administration Weighs Deeper Involvement in Yemen War
Pentagon wants to expand support for Gulf allies, in reversal of Obama policy [Washington Post]

Trump Trade Doubts Send Dollar, Shares Tumbling
Defeat of healthcare bill shakes markets [Reuters]

Sound Off

“At the end of the day, I believe that it’s time for the party to start governing. And I think that’s important. I think that Democrats can come to the table as well and if you look at what the president said in the Oval just after that comment, he said, you know, ‘Perhaps it’s time for us to start talking to some moderate Democrats as well and come up with, you know, a bipartisan solution.'” — White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus on the Republican Party after the healthcare defeat on Fox News Sunday

“Democrats are smiling in D.C. that the Freedom Caucus, with the help of Club For Growth and Heritage, have saved Planned Parenthood & Ocare!” — President Trump in a Sunday tweet

Bits and Bites

Freedom Caucus member resigns from group over Obamacare rift [Politico]

Trump taps Kushner to lead a SWAT team to fix government with business ideas [Washington Post]

Ivanka Trump to attend women’s economic summit in Berlin [Associated Press]

Joe Biden Has One Big Regret: Not Being President [TIME]

President Trump’s Claim That Obama Wiretapped Him Basically Died This Week [Associated Press]

7 Times Obamacare Escaped the Death Panel [TIME]

Former EPA Aide Wants President Trump to Roll Back Climate Regulations ASAP [TIME]

Hillary Clinton on GOP Health Care Bill Failure: ‘Today Was a Victory’ [TIME]

Trump vs. Congress: Now What? [New York Times]

Nunes says he was on WH grounds day before revealing Trump surveillance info [CNN]

Some Call for Independent Investigation Into Russian Meddling. Here’s the History You Should Know [TIME]

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