A Republican plan to replace the Affordable Care Act has been scheduled for a vote Thursday in the House of Representatives.
For New Jersey’s members of Congress, few votes come with such high stakes in terms of policy and politics. Supporters of the Affordable Care Act estimated that a previous version of the GOP replacement bill would cut coverage for 500,000 New Jersey residents, and 24 million nationwide, based on figures from the Congressional Budget Office.
House Speaker Paul Ryan pulled that bill before a vote in March for lack of support in his caucus. But Republicans kept negotiating and amending the legislation, and if the vote happens tomorrow, as multiple news outlets are reporting, it could become a defining one. New Jersey Republicans will have to decide whether to support President Trump and Ryan on a top GOP priority: a plan that does not poll well at all in their home districts.
Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-3), one of the bill’s architects and a lead negotiator in recent weeks, was the only member of the New Jersey delegation to support the plan in the previous round. He has since seen attacks from the right and left, protests in his district, nasty TV ads, condemnation from editorial writers and a potential Democratic challenger with serious Washington experience testing the waters. MacArthur represents a swing district that has been in GOP hands since 2011.
On Wednesday, The Hill reported based on anonymous sources that MacArthur’s role negotiating with conservative lawmakers was endangering his perch as co-chair of the moderate Tuesday Group in the House.
Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-11), the chairman of the powerful Appropriations Committee, was a no vote on the previous version of the legislation, dubbed the American Health Care Act. That ruffled some feathers in his party and led some to suggest he should lose his chairmanship. Frelinghuysen has not said how he would vote on the latest version of the bill.
Reps. Frank LoBiondo (R-2), Leonard Lance (R-7) and Chris Smith (R-4) were all no votes last time and have said none of the recent tweaks has changed their minds. All seven Democrats in the House delegation are opposed.