The message President Trump delivered to House Republicans on the evening of March 23 was unambiguous: Pass the American Health Care Act the next day, his top advisers told them, or the president would scrap the whole effort to repeal Obamacare and move on to the rest of his agenda.
The House, of course, did not so much as vote on the bill on that fateful Friday, but two-and-a-half weeks later, it’s clear Trump had been bluffing.
After a brief flirtation with the even more daunting legislative thicket known as tax reform, the president is back to talking about health care as if the bill he endorsed had never died. “It’s been very much misreported that we failed with health care,” Trump told Fox Business’s Maria Bartiromo in an interview broadcast Wednesday. “We haven't failed, we’re negotiating and we continue to negotiate and we will save perhaps $900 billion.”
He went on to explain, as he had done before Republicans called off the House vote, that the White House wants to enact a new health-care law first so that the party can pursue a more ambitious overhaul of the tax code.
So is the AHCA dead or alive?
Trump is correct that negotiations have resumed on reviving the proposal, and they’ve continued behind the scenes even after lawmakers departed Washington for a two-week Easter recess at the end of last week. Principally, the talks are occurring between aides to Vice President Mike Pence and leaders of House Freedom Caucus, the hardline conservative group withholding its votes until the bill moves further to the right.