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White House Mixes Signals on Health Care Votes

Cohn contends support is there, Spicer says not yet

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer says the House GOP is getting closer to passing a health care overhaul, but other White House officials say the votes are locked down. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer says the House GOP is getting closer to passing a health care overhaul, but other White House officials say the votes are locked down. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The White House delivered conflicting messages on Monday about whether there are enough votes among House Republicans to pass President Donald Trump’s long-promised overhaul of the 2010 health care law.

Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters White House officials and GOP leaders are “closer and closer” to securing the votes needed to pass a measure that would reconfigure the Obama administration’s signature domestic policy achievement. White House officials still “feel very good” about intraparty talks about getting the House GOP votes needed this week to pass a partial repeal and replace measure. There has been little evidence of movement toward passage of the House GOP measure in recent days. 

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The House is slated to leave late this week and be on recess next week. That means the White House and GOP leaders could lose votes if their members get a collective earful from constituents worried about losing their health coverage. So a vote this week seems optimal if they do indeed have the votes.

But Spicer stressed that Trump is more interested in negotiations securing the necessary number of House Republican votes, not just teeing up the revised bill for a vote.

“I think the president has made it clear he is not instituting a timeline,” Spicer said, acknowledging “we’re not there yet” on locking in the votes to pass it.

The president’s top spokesman appeared to contradict Trump’s chief economic adviser, who earlier Monday said the votes were there for passage.

“Do we have the votes for health care? I think we do. This is going be a great week,” White House National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn Cohn told “CBS This Morning.”

“We’re going to get health care down to the floor of the House,” Cohn said. “We’re convinced we’ve got the votes, and we’re going to keep moving on with our agenda.”

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