World

Trumpcare faces moment of truth

US President hoping dissenting Republicans will back healthcare bill

WASHINGTON: Donald Trump faces a reckoning as US lawmakers vote on his presidency's biggest legislative test - the Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare - as conservatives vowed to kill it unless important last-minute changes are made.

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives plans to vote on the controversial measure this morning (Singapore time) despite challenges over whether Mr Trump and ally House Speaker Paul Ryan have enough backing to get the measure over the finish line.

With Democrats opposed to Mr Trump's effort to rip out his predecessor's crowning domestic policy achievement, and his own party's right flank in revolt, Trump brought in wavering lawmakers on Wednesday to try to tip the scales in his favour.

Insiders say Mr Trump's meetings have been focused less on specifics than on the politics of "Trumpcare" failing - an outcome that would be a humiliating defeat for the billionaire leader at the start of his term.

But some lawmakers have emerged defiant, including Mr Mark Meadows, chairman of the grassroots conservative Freedom Caucus.

He said: "We need changes to the underlying bill before we vote on it in the House. There's not enough votes to pass it tomorrow."

Speaking on Fox News later, he said that "to say that we've got a deal - that wouldn't be accurate".

However, he did say that he and Mr Trump had come to "an agreement in principle".

We need changes to the underlying bill before we vote on it in the House. Chairman of the Freedom Caucus, Mark Meadows 

"There's still work to be done but I can tell you that the president is engaged," he said.

The House vote on the American Health Care Act (AHCA) looks tight.

The Democratic minority is prepared to vote against it as a bloc, so Republican leaders need to limit defections to about 22 out of their party's 237 representatives - depending on how many members end up casting a vote.

Those who are the most unhappy with "Trumpcare" are members of the Freedom Caucus - heirs apparent to the ultra-conservative Tea Party movement. They call the new bill - championed by Ryan - "Obamacare Light" as it will only reduce, not eliminate, health coverage subsidies by replacing them with refundable tax credits.

But The White House was all in. "There is no plan B," White House spokesman Sean Spicer said. - AFP

healthdonald trumpBarack Obama