Weeks of negotiations over American Health Care Act fail to create GOP consensus around replacement bill in stunning defeat for Donald Trump
Donald Trump suffered a major legislative reversal on Friday as Republicans were forced to pull their repeal of the Affordable Care Act from the House floor.
After weeks of contentious negotiations over the American Health Care Act (AHCA), Republicans were forced to admit defeat as they could not gain sufficient support from their own side for the plan to overhaul US health insurance.
WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) — House Republican leaders were short of the votes needed for their health care overhaul bill hours ahead of a vote demanded by President Donald Trump.
That’s the word Friday from GOP lawmakers and congressional aides as Speaker Paul Ryan met with the president at the White House to deliver the sobering news.
Separately, Vice President Mike Pence was meeting near the Capitol with recalcitrant members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus in a last-ditch effort to secure support.
Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C., told reporters, “As of right now, I’m not sure that we are across the finish line. We’ve still got three or four hours and there’s still discussions happening.”
Ahead of the vote, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said during his daily briefing Friday that ” at this point it’s not a question of negotiating anymore it’s understanding the greater good that’s at hand. There’s not question in my mind at least that the president and the team here have left everything on the field.”
Earlier Friday, Republicans pushed the GOP health care overhaul past an initial procedural hurdle in the House.
The early vote inserted changes into the measure that leaders hoped would win over unhappy Republicans. It would improve Medicaid benefits for some older and handicapped people and abolish coverage requirements President Barack Obama’s 2010 law imposes on insurers.
Ahead of a make-or-break vote, Trump called the GOP proposal “a great plan,” tweeting Friday that, “after seven horrible years of ObamaCare (skyrocketing premiums & deductibles, bad healthcare), this is finally your chance for a great plan!”
After seven horrible years of ObamaCare (skyrocketing premiums & deductibles, bad healthcare), this is finally your chance for a great plan!
In a bid to coax support from conservatives, House leaders had proposed a fresh amendment repealing Obama’s requirement that insurers cover 10 specified services like maternity, prescription drugs and mental health care.
Conservatives have demanded the removal of those and other conditions the law imposes on insurers, arguing they drive up premiums.
“Essential benefits are not being done away with,” Rep. Peter Sessions (R-Texas) said. “They’re being transferred entirely to states. States have asked for the ability to manage their own money and manage their own people’s benefits.”
At a Capitol meeting late Thursday, top White House officials told GOP lawmakers that Trump had decided the time for talk was over.
“For seven and a half years we have been promising the American people that we will repeal and replace this broken law because it’s collapsing and it’s failing families,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said.
In an embarrassing setback hours earlier, party leaders abruptly postponed the vote because a rebellion by both conservatives and moderates would have doomed it.
The House went back into session Thursday night as some members made last-minute pleas. Behind closed doors, the negotiations are said to have included an added series of amendments in hopes of making it more appealing to moderate and conservative Republicans.
But the bill has been a tough sell for some Republicans holdouts.
“I thought the bill misses the mark and that’s why I’ve taken the position I’ve taken,” Pennsylvania Rep. Charlie Dent said.
Staten Island Congressman Dan Donovan told CNN that seniors would suffer and taxes could go up because of last-minute Medicaid cuts.
“There’s no reason to rush through it,” he said. “I would rather get it right than get it done fast.”
He said that changes made by GOP leadership Thursday night strengthened his no vote and that changes to the essential benefit section would be a big issue for his southern New Jersey district.
A spokeswoman for the other Republican in the state’s delegation, Rep. Tom MacArthur, says he still plans to vote yes.
There was no evidence that leaders had nailed down sufficient support to prevail. But they seemed to be calculating that Republicans would not want to deal Trump a crushing defeat.
“Rookie’s error, Donald Trump,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said. “You may be a great negotiator — rookie’s error for bringing this up on a day when clearly you’re not ready.”
No Democrats are expected to vote for the bill, so Republicans cannot lose more than about 22 votes from their own members if they expect it to pass.
“This thing has been a mess from beginning to end,” said Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass). “Now I know our president prides himself on his negotiating skills, but this seems like ‘the art of no deal’ to me.”
One of the architects of the Republican plan offered reassurance, saying whatever clears the House is subject to change, CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported.
“Well it leaves you with the opportunity for the Senate to modify it and change it as they see fit,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price. “If there are significant changes, it goes to a conference committee. This is the legislative process.”
The original vote was scheduled to take place on the seven year anniversary of President Barack Obama signing the Affordable Care Act.
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