Steve Scalise’s Rising Star Faces Key Test
This Thursday’s scheduled vote in the U.S. House of Representatives to begin rolling back Obamacare with the American Health Care Act will be Majority Whip Steve Scalise’s biggest, most important test to date.
The Louisiana lawmaker’s star already on the rise, and regarded as an organized, likeable and trusted lieutenant to Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Speaker Paul Ryan, Scalise has as much as anyone riding on this first vote.
The confidence displayed by Ryan late last week when he scheduled the AHCA vote bodes well for Scalise’s off-stage work with reluctant members — so many of whom have never known a governing GOP majority.
Rank and file members in heavily GOP House seats need to cast self-protective votes as possible primary opponents assess the 2018 field of play, and incumbents’ potential vulnerability. According to the latest reporting, at least three amendments to the bill — and perhaps more — will be offered, all of which help protect incumbents:
- Medicaid work requirements for the able-bodied
- Prohibiting states that did not expand Medicaid from doing so during an expansion phase out
- The option to block grant Medicaid
Down in the trenches of this initial Scalise sales effort, Trump’s negotiating malleability has provided Scalise the open field running room needed to help affect positive movement towards passage.
And Scalise has already adopted some of Trump’s sales language, telling Politico the bill “is only going to get better” as he extols the virtues of throwing “the Obamacare disaster” overboard.
Even if passed, the bill indeed faces an uncertain prospect in the U.S. Senate.
But if Scalise can help engineer this first key win for Trump, Ryan and McCarthy on Thursday, it will only reinforce the growing perception in Washington that the Louisiana lawmaker’s star is on the rise.