Republicans pull healthcare legislation plan after votes come up short

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) lead opposition to the health care plan saying it did not go far enough in repealing Obamacare

Jonathan Ernst—Reuters
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) holds a news conference after Republicans pulled the American Health Care Act bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act act known as Obamacare

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Republican leaders of the House of Representatives pulled legislation to overhaul the U.S. health care system from consideration on Friday due to a shortage of votes, despite aggressive lobbying by the White House and its allies in Congress.”This is a setback, no two ways about it, but it is not the end of the story,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan in a press conference after the bill was pulled. “Now I know that every man and woman in this conference is now motivated more than ever to step up our game and deliver on our promises.”Republican leaders had planned a vote on the American Healthcare Act after Trump cut off negotiations on Thursday with Republicans who had balked at the plan. Trump issued an ultimatum to vote on Friday, win or lose.Some Republican moderates as well as the most conservative lawmakers had objected to the legislation. Congressman Mark Meadows (R- N.C.), chairman of the Freedom Caucus, led opposition to the initial version of the bill, leading to amendments that were presented earlier in the week including a quicker end to Obamacare taxes and rules that allowed states to add a work or community service requirement for some Medicaid recipients.”I don’t want to cast blame, but there is a block of no votes that we had, they were a sufficient number of votes that prevented it from passing,” said Ryan. “They didn’t change their votes, some from that caucus were voting with us, but not enough.”Ryan said Obamacare is the current law of the land and will remain so until Republicans can whip enough votes to change it. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said it was time for a sigh of relief.”Today is a great day for our country. It’s a victory. What happened on the House floor is a victory for the American people, for our seniors, for our people with disablilites, for our children, for veterans,” she said in a press conference with fellow House Democrats on Friday.”We were probably doing the architects of Obamacare a favor before this thing got even worse,” said Ryan. “They may be happy right now but when they see how bad this things gets, based on all the projections we are being told by the plans that are participating in Obamacare, they aren’t going to like that either.”Amid a chaotic scramble for votes early Friday Ryan, who has championed the bill, met with Trump at the White House after hours of debate. He and Trump had similar comments in the initial moments following the failed effort. Ryan said he did not know what the next steps would be on health care, but called Obamacare so flawed that it would be hard to prop up.”What we are really worried about, and you’ve heard me say this all along, is the coming premium increases with a death spiraling health care system,” said Ryan.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 best thing we can do politically is let Obamacare explode. It’s exploding right now,” said Trump in a press conference from the Oval Office on Friday.”The losers are Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer because they now have Obamacare, they own it.” he added. “Just remember when it explodes, this is their bill not ours.”Trump said that now his focus would turn to tax reform, a sentiment shared by House of Representative Ways and Means Committee chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas). Brady said on Friday that following the withdrawal of a health care law the Republican agenda would be to move quickly to craft a tax reform bill.