GOP Pulls Obamacare Repeal Bill Minutes Before Scheduled House Vote

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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.”

Following Ryan’s press event, Democratic leadership had their turn.

“The American people expressed their support for it,” Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said at a Friday press conference. “That message became very clear to our colleagues on the Republican side of the aisle.”

Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (MD), extended an olive branch to the GOP.

“I hope that we can work with the administration and with the other side, and not just abandon this effort,” said Hoyer.

Added Assistant Democratic Leader, Rep. James Clyburn (SC), “I am pleased and hopeful that this step today will be a step toward the building of a more perfect union, and hopefully we can do that very soon, with making the Affordable Care Act a better piece of legislation in a bipartisan way.”

In remarks from the White House, President Trump repeated his predictions that the Affordable Care Act would “explode,” but said he’d be “totally open” to talking to Democrats about health care legislation.

“When they all become civilized and get together and try and work out a great health care bill for the people of this country, we’re open to it,” said the President. “We’re totally open to it.”

“I know some of the Democrats and they’re good people,” added Trump. “I honestly believe the Democrats are going to come to us and say ‘Look, let’s get together and get a great health care plan that’s really great for the people of our country, and I think that’s gonna happen.”

However, the President said he would not be the one reaching out to Democrats.

“I think we have to let Obamacare go its way for a little while and we’ll see how things go,” explained Trump. “I’d love to see it do well, but it can’t!”

The decision to pull the legislation was applauded by our colleagues at Consumers Union.

“The American Health Care Act was pulled from the floor because it is a hugely flawed bill that would do nothing to lower healthcare costs for Americans,” explains Laura MacCleery, Vice President of Policy for Consumer Reports. “This legislation would be a disaster for our health system — raising premiums, deductibles and out-of-pocket costs, gutting coverage for our most vulnerable and leaving tens of millions without any coverage at all, all while giving the wealthy billion dollar tax breaks. The attempt to rush it through the legislative process without any hearings or input from a broad group of stakeholders was as misguided as the legislation itself.”