Facing all but certain death in the House of Representatives, the American Health Care Act — the budget resolution intended to repeal much of the 2010 Affordable Care Act — was pulled from consideration only minutes before legislators were set to vote.
“We just pulled it,” President Trump confirmed to the Washington Post in a phone interview shortly after the House recessed without explanation at 3:31 p.m. ET on Friday.
Given that all Democratic House members were slated to vote against the bill, the GOP could only stand to lose support from 22 of their own party. Almost every forecast of the vote had at least 30 Republicans already committed to voting no, with about half that many leaning toward a no vote.
The decision to pull the legislation, presumably with the goal of retooling the details to win more support, is a departure from the position taken by the White House earlier in the afternoon.
During his daily press brief, White House spokesperson Sean Spicer repeatedly brushed off hypotheticals about what would happen if the bill failed as predicted. Instead, Spicer tried to stress the idea that President Trump had done as much as he could do to wrangle support for this bill, and that it was time to vote.
“At some point you’ve listened to everybody,” said Spicer about 90 minutes before the bill was pulled. “We either have a deal or we don’t.”
After the House was abruptly called into recess this afternoon, Rep. Bradley Byrne (AL), a supporter of the bill, told reporters that he did not know what the next steps would be, though he did not rule out that the issue could still be addressed this year.
“It’s a good idea for everyone to go home, get some rest,” said Byrne. “Think; don’t react emotionally, and remember that we have a lot of other things to do here… This problem is not going away.”
The Congressman would not say that, as some have reported, President Trump requested that the bill be pulled, though he did say that the President supported the decision.
Another supporter of the bill, Rep. Andy Barr of Kentucky, told reporters that he wouldn’t rule out the possibility of bringing up health care reform again this year, though his sense was that it would not.
The GOP attempted to pass the repeal legislation through the budget resolution process, meaning that it would only have needed a simple majority to pass through the Senate. However, the divisions over this bill within the Republican party prevented the AHCA from getting out of the House.
“I will not sugar-coat this,” said Speaker Ryan after pulling the bill. “This is a disappointing day for us.”
Ryan says he made the suggestion to Trump to halt consideration of the bill.
“The President gave his all in this effort,” said the Speaker. “He’s really been fantastic.”
Developing story. More to come…