As Republicans moved ahead in Congress this week with a plan to overhaul the Obama health law, GOP leaders set out an ambitious schedule over the next few weeks that could see a showdown on the House floor later this month over a health care reform plan that has the strong backing of President Trump.
"We promised to repeal and replace Obamacare, and now we are one step closer to giving families relief from this collapsing law," said House Speaker Paul Ryan on Thursday.
As I reported on the health care story this week, it quickly became apparent that many voters aren't quite sure about the procedural details involved in this legislative effort - so let's try to answer a few of those questions about what happens next on health care.
+ This week brought approval of the GOP plan in two House committees.
+ Week of March 13 - House Budget Committee votes on GOP health care reconciliation bill. And we probably get a CBO score.
+ Week of March 20 - The bill heads to the House Rules Committee, which sets the ground rules for debate on the floor. In the search for votes at this point, the Rules Committee could make some late changes, known as a "Manager's Amendment." (When the Democrats made late changes like that in 2009, Republicans hit the roof.)
+ You could have a vote in the House that week, or the week of March 27, depending on how much arm-twisting is needed before the Easter break.
+ The week of March 20 and/or March 27, you could also see House action on the "second" health care bill, which would include all sorts of health care policy ideas that are not included in the reconciliation bill. The GOP leadership can then turn to any fence sitters and say, "See? You voted to repeal and replace."
+ If the House approves the health care bill, it goes right to the Senate - where it might need a little more work before a floor vote, as some Republicans have signaled their opposition.
My bottom line right now? I know there are a lot of Republicans raising red flags about the bill. But the same thing happened in 2009 and 2010. And the Democrats pushed it through.
Chances are the GOP can only get the first bill through both the House and Senate, while a filibuster might stop a broader health policy measure. But who knows?