There appears to be some confusion among the media, but the bottom line is, Congress voted on May 4, 2017 NOT to exempt itself from the requirements of Trumpcare.
Here’s how and why it works:
- Reconciliation bills can be passed with a simple majority (51), instead of 60 votes
- To be considered as a reconciliation bill, the bill must meet a complex set of requirements having to do with subcommittees areas of responsibilities and more.
- The Republicans wanted the American Health Care Act (The House TrumpCare bill) to be a reconciliation bill to improve its odds of passage in the Senate.
- One of the basic points of TrumpCare is to return control of HealthCare to state governments, to let local governments determine what they want for themselves. But that created a conflict with senators who work both in their states (that can issues waivers) and at a federal level; (where waivers are the responsibility of a subcommittee) potentially subjecting them to a catch-22. But that catch-22 had to stay in the bill in order to make the bill a reconciliation bill.
- So, Republican Rep. Martha McSally of Arizona proposed a stand-alone bill to REMOVE the exemption of Congress from state waiver provisions should the AHCA be enacted into law. From the House floor, McSally said that “due to very arcane Senate procedural rules within the budget reconciliation process,” the MacArthur amendment “does not and cannot apply to members of Congress. I believe that any law we pass [that] applies to our constituents must also apply equally to members of Congress,” McSally said. “Individuals who are stewards of public trust must abide by the rules that they make.” McSally’s bill passed on May 4 by a 429-0 vote
- So, the House Rules Committee approved procedural rules Wednesday night to fast-track consideration of both the GOP healthcare bill and the separate measure to address the issue; saying the House passed the American Health Care Act with the exemption intact after first passing a separate bill that would repeal the exemption that would be created by the AHCA if both bills became law.
This means there are now two bills that the House sent to the Senate. The AHCA which for the reason of the obscure senate procedures must would exempt members of Congress and their staffs from state waiver provisions.And there is also McSally’s bill which wioll remove the exemption if the AHCA becomes law. And since the McSally bill passed unanimously, both partyies agreed a health care law Congress passes should apply in the same way to members of Congress.