Mar 12, 2017
Last week, Speaker Ryan unveiled the American Healthcare Act, the House GOP’s first major step towards repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act. Immediately, internal division over the bill emerged between Republican Leadership and the House Freedom Caucus, not to mention, staunch opposition from Democrats.
There hasn’t been a legislative overhaul of our healthcare system to this magnitude since the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010. Of course, in the last eight years a lot has changed in Congress.
More than half of the 115th House wasn't in office during the ACA debate.
On March 22, 2010 the 111th House passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act by a 7 vote margin, 219 to 212. Democrats accounted for all 219 yeas whereas 178 Republicans and 34 Democrats voted nay. Of the 431 Representatives who voted, 222 (54%) are no longer serving in Congress. Of the 34 Democrats who voted nay only 3 remain in the House: Rep. Lipinski (D-IL-3), Rep. Lynch (D-MA-8), and Rep. Peterson (D-MN-7).
Half of the 115th Ways and Means Committee wasn't in office during the ACA debate.
In 2009, the ACA was referred to the House Ways & Means Committee then chaired by Rep. Levin (D-MI-9). Last week, the GOP’s new plan was referred to Ways & Means for markup, now chaired by Rep. Brady (R-TX-8). Of the 40 members on the House Ways & Means Committee in 2009, 23 are no longer serving in Congress.
One-third of the 115th Senate wasn't in office during the ACA debate.
On Christmas Eve in 2009, the 111th Senate passed the ACA by a vote of 60 to 40, 58 Democrats and 2 Independents voting yea, 39 Republicans voting nay with 1 absence (Sen. Bunning, R-KY). Of the 100 Senators who voted on ACA, 31 Democrats and 18 Republicans are no longer serving in the Senate. However, 8 Democrats and 7 Republicans now serving in the 115th Senate previously served in the 111th House during the ACA debate, among them is Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) who’s been an outspoken critic of the new bill.
The “growing pains” of Congress
Speaker Ryan described the GOP’s divide over AHCA as, “growing pains of being an opposition party to becoming a governing party … nearly two-thirds of House Republicans have never known what it’s like to work with a Republican president.” While the Speaker is correct, what remains more revealing from the insights above is the number of members for whom crafting a major piece of healthcare legislation is a new experience.