Republican leaders decided to pull the American Health Care Act from consideration on the House floor on Friday, after discovering they would not have enough votes to pass it. The vote was originally supposed to take place on Thursday, before talks between President Donald Trump and far-right Republican lawmakers broke down. This defeat spells trouble for other items on the GOP’s agenda, such as tax reform.
Trump reportedly made the decision just minutes before a full floor vote was scheduled to take place. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) came to the White House earlier that afternoon to tell him the bill had little chance of success.
President Trump just called me. Still on phone.
"We just pulled it," he tells me.
— Robert Costa (@costareports) March 24, 2017
After Republican leaders and President Trump met with the House Freedom Caucus, a group of far-right conservatives, and the Tuesday Group, which includes moderate conservatives, on Thursday, Republican leaders concluded they would not be able to reach a deal on the health care bill that day.
Thursday night, Trump told House Republicans that he would abandon efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare and focus on tax reform if they did successfully pass Trumpcare the following day.
Powerful conservative groups opposed the legislation. The Koch brothers’ network of activism and advertising groups said they would work together to create a fund to support conservatives who voted against the bill. Heritage Action — a conservative policy advocacy group, and sister organization of the conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation — also fiercely opposed the bill. Its CEO, Michael A. Needham, released a statement that read, “It is an awful bill that will impact millions of Americans’ lives and is opposed by nearly every serious conservative health care analyst. This legislation is a policy, process, and political disaster.”
Republicans and Democrats alike have said the process for passing this legislation through the House has been extremely rushed. Many lawmakers hadn’t seen the text of the legislation they were supposed to be voting on. On Thursday night, Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) tweeted, “We must have the opportunity to read and understand the final bill before we vote. It’s irresponsible to do otherwise.”
Before the original Trumpcare bill was released to the public, House Republicans closely guarded it in the Capitol. Lawmakers searched for the legislation on March 2, only to find it had been moved to another location.
Only on March 7 was it finally made public. Republican leaders scheduled it for a vote in the House only weeks later. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) initially said the Senate would vote on the bill next week. In contrast, it took over a year to pass Obamacare, which began as a bipartisan effort.
The bill went through significant changes this week after Republican leaders made concessions to House Freedom Caucus Republicans, which included more cuts to Medicaid, ending Medicaid expansion earlier, and gutting Obamacare’s essential health benefits requirement, which provides services such as maternity care, substance abuse treatment, and emergency services. Still, dissatisfied Freedom Caucus Republicans wanted to get rid of the coverage for people with pre-existing conditions and a provision that allows children to remain on their parents plan until they are 26 years old.
Ninety percent of Democrats and 82 percent of Republicans have favorable views of allowing young people to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26, according to a 2016 Pew Research survey. Seventy-five percent of Democrats and 63 percent of Republicans have favorable views on the provision that protects people with pre-existing conditions from being denied coverage.
Only 17 percent of Americans approved of the Republican health care bill, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll.