GOP House leaders pulled their health care bill from consideration on March 24 due to a shortage of votes despite desperate lobbying by the White House and its allies, dealing a big blow to President Donald Trump.
Republican leadership had planned a vote on the measure after Trump cut off negotiations with Republicans who had balked at the plan and issued an ultimatum to vote on Friday, win or lose.
Republican moderates as well as the most conservative lawmakers objected to the legislation. But the White House and House leaders were unable to come up with a plan that satisfied both moderates and conservatives.
Trump told the Washington Post: “We just pulled it.”
Amid a chaotic scramble for votes, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., who has championed the bill, met with Trump at the White House before the measure was pulled from the House floor after hours of debate.
Trump told the Post the health care bill would not be coming up again in the near future and that he wanted to see if Democrats who uniformly objected to the Republican plan would come to him to work on health care legislation, a Washington Post reporter said on MSNBC.
For now, Barack Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement, the 2010 Affordable Care Act — known as Obamacare — will remain in place despite seven years of Republican promises to dismantle it.
Repealing and replacing Obamacare was a top campaign promise by Trump in the 2016 presidential election, as well as by most Republican candidates, “from dog-catcher on up,” as White House spokesman Sean Spicer put it during a briefing on Friday.
The House failure to pass the measure called into question Trump’s ability to get other key parts of his agenda, including tax cuts and a boost in infrastructure spending, through a Congress controlled by his own party.
Trump already has been stymied by federal courts that blocked his discriminatory executive actions barring entry into the United States of people from several Muslim-majority nations.
Now members of his own party worry the defeat on the health care legislation could cripple his presidency just two months after the billionaire real estate mogul took office.
In a blow to the bill’s prospects, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen announced his opposition, expressing concern about reductions in coverage under the Medicaid insurance program for the poor and the retraction of “essential” health benefits that insurers must cover.
“We need to get this right for all Americans,” Frelinghuysen said.
Progressive groups overwhelmingly opposed the health care plan as offered by Ryan and the amendments intended to appease even more conservative members of his party.