It’s judgment day for the Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare

The House is scheduled to vote in the early afternoon and as the morning wore on, optimism among GOP leaders appeared to be growing. “Looking forward to a good day,” said Majority Whip Steve Scalise, as he entered the closed-door meeting of House Republicans.

The House cleared a procedural hurdle paving the way to a vote that was expected during the afternoon.

Despite controlling the White House and Congress, Republicans have found that overturning Obamacare – which they have long criticized as government overreach – is politically fraught, in part because of voter fears that many people will lose their health insurance as a result.

The Republican bill, called the American Health Care Act, would repeal most Obamacare taxes, which paid for the law, roll back the Medicaid expansion and slash the program’s funding, repeal the penalty for not purchasing insurance and replace the law’s tax credits with flat age-based credits.

“This is a step away from more government control of our healthcare and our day-to-day lives, and a return to freedom for all Americans,” said Republican Representative Luke Messer.

An unusually emotional debate erupted on the House floor Thursday morning as Democrats blasted the bill, saying it would make insurance unaffordable for those who need it most and would leave millions more uninsured.

With Democrats unified against the measure, GOP leaders can only lose about 22 Republicans and still pass the bill. The proposal has been a tug-of-war between the moderate and conservative factions inside the House Republican Conference during weeks of intense negotiations and embarrassing setbacks.