Republicans pull Health Care Bill from House Floor
By NBC News
Photo by NBC News.
(NBC News) - House Republicans have pulled the GOP health care plan from the House floor just minutes ahead of a planned vote, a House leadership aide tells NBC News, leaving the fate of the party's efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare with an uncertain future.
The move comes after a chaotic week of intense negotiations to convince at least 215 Republicans to support the leadership-written health care bill that was ultimately not enough to fulfill a seven-year long pledge to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
The pressure began in earnest earlier in the week when the president traveled to Capitol Hill for the big sell and warned Republicans that they would lose their seats — and the House majority — if they failed to follow through with their campaign promise.
Trump and Ryan continued to meet with Republicans undecided or against the measure throughout the week and twice changed the bill to accommodate members.
But those efforts weren't enough to convince moderate Republicans that it wouldn't harm people in their districts who have enjoyed expanded Medicaid coverage and financial assistance in purchasing health care. And they weren't enough for the conservative Republicans who thought that the government was too involved in in the health care industry and that it doesn't do enough to reduce the cost of health insurance premiums.
A scheduled vote Thursday was postponed as it became clear Republicans would not have the votes needed for passage. White House officials then issued a warning to GOP members of Congress: Pass the bill Friday or Obamacare stays.
But by Friday morning, Trump already appeared to be moving on as he made an announcement about approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline.
But GOP leaders were still focused and determined to pass health care.
Republicans left a closed-door conference meeting Thursday night more optimistic than they have since the process began earlier in the week. About 30 Republicans stood to speak in support of the measure, according to a source in the room, motivating the caucus to move ahead.
But things took a turn for the worse Friday as the "no" votes kept growing. One particularly critical announcement came from Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen R.-N.J., the chair of the powerful House Appropriations Committee and an ally of House Speaker Paul Ryan, who came out against the bill.
"Unfortunately, the legislation before the House today is currently unacceptable as it would place significant new costs and barriers to care on my constituents in New Jersey," he said on his Facebook page. "In addition to the loss of Medicaid coverage for so many people in my Medicaid-dependent state, the denial of essential health benefits in the individual market raise serious coverage and cost issues."
Still Ryan's allies continued to work to persuade the moderates and the conservatives to jump on board.
Rep. Mark Wayne Mullins, R-Okla., who was helping Ryan convince members said that he posed one question to members: "When was the last time there was a perfect bill passed out of congress? It doesn't exist," he said. "Now is the time to pass the vote. Are you going to stand with our President Trump or are you going to stand with Obama and Obamacare."
But by lunch time, House Speaker Paul Ryan traveled to the White House to meet with Trump. And Vice President Pence cancelled a planned trip and traveled to Capitol Hill - specifically the Republican Capitol Hill Club a block from the Capitol - to meet with the conservative House Freedom Caucus.
And things continued to get worse for the bill. Rep. Barbara Comstock, who is from a swing district in Northern Virginia, also came out Friday in opposition, according to her spokesperson. And so did Rep. David Joyce, R-Ohio, who had remained undecided until Friday afternoon.
But Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., disagreed that it was a binary choice.
"I want to say this respectfully - my position comes from spending the last few weeks going real deep on the bill's effects in Nevada," said Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., who said earlier Friday that he couldn't support the bill. "When the politics gets wild, go to the issue."