U.S. President Donald Trump and Republican congressional leaders worked on Wednesday to try to secure enough support in the House of Representatives to win passage of their Obamacare rollback bill, watched by wary investors in financial markets.
Repealing and replacing Democrat Barack Obama’s 2010 Affordable Care Act is the first major test of Trump’s legislative ability and whether he can keep his big promises to business.
The current House Republican rollback plan, scheduled for a floor vote on Thursday, faces stiff resistance from some conservative Republicans who view it as too similar to Obamacare, and from moderates who fear its impact on voters.
Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan, the measure’s leading proponent, can afford to lose only about 20 Republican votes or risk failure, since Democrats are united against it. By some estimates, 26 House Republicans have signaled their opposition.
Trump’s promises during his election campaign and his first two months in office have lifted U.S. stock markets to new highs. But stocks fell back on Tuesday as investors worried that a rough ride for the healthcare legislation could have an effect on Trump’s ability to deliver on other big pieces of his agenda, from cutting taxes and regulation to boosting infrastructure.
The S&P 500 and Nasdaq stock benchmark indexes were little changed on Wednesday.
“The Trump agenda is like a one-lane road with this big truck called ‘healthcare’ in the lead,” said Brookings Institution senior fellow William Galston. “If that truck breaks down, everything else will back up.”
While paying little attention to the details of the House Republican effort, Trump has put considerable effort into shoring up the bill, actively courting conservative lawmakers who say the bill is too similar to Obamacare. In a trip to Capitol Hill on Tuesday he warned Republicans that the political consequences of failure could be steep in next year’s congressional midterm elections.
Trump was expected to continue trying to sell the plan, called the American Health Care Act, to hard-line conservatives when members of the House Freedom Caucus visit the White House on Wednesday.