President Trump has put it all on the line for Thursday’s health care vote.
His position has gone beyond offering support for legislation offered by GOP House leaders. The measure has his stamp of approval, and the full force of his dealmaking energy, given the public and private pressure he appears to be exerting.
It’s a high-risk, high-reward venture for the author of “The Art of the Deal.” The president even turned to threats -- even if in jest -- to get his caucus on board, telling House Republicans not to be “fools” and suggesting their seats could be at risk in 2018.
At a 40-minute meeting with all House GOP members, he even joked about whether he would have to “come after” Freedom Caucus leader Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., if he continues to oppose the legislation.
President Trump sees the vote tomorrow as a defining moment for the party and his still-young presidency, but its fate is far from certain. Currently, ABC News counts at least 25 House members that are no votes, more than enough to sink the bill.
At least officially, there is no backup plan.
“There is no plan B,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Wednesday. “There is plan A and plan A.”
If the president is successful, he will have done something House Republicans looked like they could not do on their own. They will have a united conference delivering on the biggest promise not only of the last campaign, but that the GOP has offered over the last seven years.
If he fails, the consequences could be devastating to the Trump agenda. There would be the unfulfilled promise of repeal and replace for Obamacare and diminished chances of legislative achievements on tax reform and infrastructure investments, just for starters.
A win in the House won’t guarantee anything, either. Next will come Senate Republicans, where a handful of conservatives and moderates seem even more dug in against Trumpcare, or Ryancare, or whatever name this legislation will be remembered as.
So how does the president get both chambers on board? It will take more than typical political dealmaking. Some conservative senators have even been studying up on how to negotiate with the businessman-turned-president, reading his books so they know exactly how he negotiates.
As with anything surrounding this White House, there are distractions. Recent days have brought FBI Director James Comey’s bombshells, potential Russia connections to his onetime campaign associates, a Supreme Court confirmation process in the Senate, and now a terror incident in London.
It’s a difficult, if not impossible, position for the White House as the minutes count down until that critical vote. In other words, Trump has Washington right where he wants it – unless it all falls apart.