Policy

The Latest on Republican Health Care Bill Vote

With Republicans unable to corral enough votes, bill is pulled from the floor

Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., center, and other members and staff make their way to a procedural vote in the Capitol before the vote on the American Health Care Act later in the day. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Republicans on Friday pulled their health care bill from the floor on Friday when it became clear they didn’t have the votes to pass the measure, dealing a major setback to their efforts to repeal the 2010 health care law that was the centerpiece achievement of President Donald Trump’s predecessor.

The announcement came after a frenzied two days of lobbying when major divisions emerged between leadership and its conservative and moderate blocs.

Republicans scuttled plans for a vote Thursday — the seventh anniversary of the passage of the Affordable Care Act — but House leaders negotiated deep into the night and emerged with a promise of a Friday vote after Trump threatened that he would walk away from the effort if the measure failed in the chamber.

But with the minutes ticking away before an anticipated 3:30 p.m. vote, it amounted to naught. As Democrats chanted, "vote, vote, vote," on the House floor, the bill was pulled.

Here is the latest on where things stand:

5 p.m.: House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, tells reporters that Republicans are moving full steam ahead on a tax overhaul. 

“We’re going to analyze the complete impacts here but clearly it makes a big challenge even more challenging, not insurmountable,” Brady says. “We’re not going to carry the Obamacare tax relief in our tax reform. We’re going to keep that separate.” 

Brady notes tax reform is a more natural issue for Republicans. 

Asked what lessons he will bring from the health care debacle to tax overhaul, Brady says there would likely be more discussions among members about reconciliation rules. 

4:57 p.m.: Trump appears to leave the door open to the possibility that he would revisit health care with, “a better bill.”

In his first remarks since the bill was canceled, Trump attempts to distance himself from the scrapped legislation and says he disliked many things in the measure.

Trump blames Democrats for the bill’s failure, saying no member of the opposition party would cross the aisle despite problems with the 2010 health law.

But he invites them to come to the table and come up with a way to improve the law.

“What would be good, with no Democratic support [of the bill] is if they got with us and got a bipartisan bill done,” Trump says. “I’d be totally open to that.”

4:50 p.m.: In one of House Speaker Paul Ryan’s lowest moments, some members of his party begin to offer notes of support. They say it was not Ryan’s fault that the GOP failed in its effort to repeal the health care law, and that Ryan did all he could.”

“There is nobody that would have gotten it even this close other than Paul Ryan,” says Rep. Bill Huizenga. “Absolutely nobody.” 

Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala, makes a similar show of support.

“I like the job he’s doing and I want him to stay speaker of the House and I’ve heard nothing to the contrary,” Brooks says.

Trump also brushes aside reports that he and other White House officials were upset with Ryan's handling of the bill.

“I like Speaker Ryan,” Trump says. “He worked very, very hard.”

4:45 p.m.: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi  responds to Trump’s comments that she and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer now own Obamacare with a laugh.

“We proudly do,” Pelosi says. “Did he blame us for the defeat?”

4:37 p.m.: House Democratic whip Steny Hoyer signals that he would be willing to work with the GOP to improve the law.

“The American people are still going to rely on us to have that security,” Hoyer says. “And I hope we can work with the administration and the other side and not just abandon this effort.”

4:34 p.m.: In a sign that some GOP lawmakers aren’t about to let go of the fight over health care, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC,  starts a new Twitter hashtag, #CollapseandReplace.

4:32 p.m.: “Today is a great day for our country, it’s a victory for the American people,” Pelosi says.

“It’s pretty exciting for us. Yesterday was our anniversary. Today a victory for the Affordable Care Act, more importantly for the American people.”

4:31 p.m.: Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., says the bill broke down because not enough members were consulted in the drafting process. 

“You’ve got to have everybody participating in the first instance in drafting this legislation,” he says. The episode does not reflect poorly on Trump, who he says did all he could to move the bill forward. 

4:30 p.m.: Florida freshman Rep. Matt Gaetz says his party needs to prove it can govern. Asked if there’s anything they could do to prove that, he says, “I don’t think we could pass a Mother’s Day resolution right now.’

4:28 p.m.: Schumer pans the GOP’s failure to repeal the law in a scathing statement, attributing the last-minute defeat to Trump.

“Ultimately, the TrumpCare bill failed because of two traits that have plagued the Trump presidency since he took office: incompetence and broken promises,” Schumer writes. “In my life, I have never seen an administration as incompetent as the one occupying the White House today.”

“They can’t write policy that actually makes sense, they can’t implement the policies they do manage to write, they can’t get their stories straight, and today we’ve learned that they can’t close a deal, and they can’t count votes.

“So much for the ‘Art of the Deal.’”

4:24 p.m.: Ryan says the GOP will move on with the rest of their agenda because they have “big, ambitious plans”

“Yes this does make tax reform more difficult, but it does not in any way make it impossible,” he says.

Ryan says Republicans have “more agreement” on the nature of tax reform, funding the government, and boosting the military.

4:14 p.m: Ryan says the failed effort showed that the party is undergoing “growing pains.”

He also acknowledges the bill’s defeat was, “a setback,” and says that the law would remain in place for now. 

“Moving from an opposition part to a governing party comes with growing pains,” Ryan says. “We came really close to day but we came up short.”

Ryan says he told Trump the best thing to do was pull this bill and Trump agreed. He says Trump had been “fantastic.”

“I’m really proud of the bill that we produced. It would make a dramatic improvement in our health care system.”

But the Republican vision will take a backseat for now, he says: “We’re going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future.”

4:11 p.m.: Kentucky Republican Andy Barr says the broader effort to repeal is “not dead” because the people who campaigned on it are “going to be persistent.” But he says they have so much to do they have to move on. And he admits this will make tax reform harder.

4:10 p.m.: Chief Deputy Whip Patrick McHenry says, “We were one decision away from being able to pass this and send it to the Senate.” 

4:08 p.m.: The White House announces Trump will address the health care bill being pulled at the conclusion of a Medal of Honor ceremony at the White House.

4:01 p.m.: Lawmakers are still in a state of shock as the news settles in that the effort to repeal law had failed. With lawmakers from both sides declaring the bill dead, some Republicans say they don‘t know what will happen next.

Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla, says he is “disappointed” the bill was pulled.

“I wanted to see us go out there and have the fight,” he says. He adds that Republicans were not given any indication of next steps for health care. 

“We’ll be back to work on Monday — get back at it," he says. 

Greg Walden, an Oregon Republican who played a key role in drafting the bill, leaves a House GOP meeting with this message: “This bill is dead.”

“Wow, oh, wow,” says Democratic Rep. Charlie Crist, a former Republican. A staffer mutters, “Aren’t you glad you switched parties?”

Reps. Mark Meadows and Raul Labrador leave the House GOP meeting silent. They do not say a word to the mob of reporters that followed them to the elevators.

Asked whether the House will really give up its efforts to repeal the health law, Rep. Phil Roe, author of one of the earliest GOP replacement plans, says yes.

“I think it’s over. The president is moving on,” he says. 

“We’re on guard,” says Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., about concerns another health measure could resurface. “Crazy times.”

3:50 p.m.: Democrats can be heard celebrating outside the House chamber as they learn of the bill’s demise.

With the House Democratic cloakroom door ajar, cheers can be heard from the packed antechamber. Sporadic cheers continue from the room as lawmakers appear to be glued to the television.

3:48 p.m.: The call to pull the bill came from Trump, a leadership aide says. The president spoke with Ryan at 3 p.m. today and asked Ryan to pull the bill.

3:36 p.m.: Ryan announces a 4 p.m. news conference.

3:34 p.m.: The bill is pulled.

3:32 p.m.: Democrats chant, “Vote!Vote!Vote!” as the House goes into recess. With no confirmation that a vote would be held before the end of the day, the GOP conference convenes for a meeting in a private room in the House.

3:19 p.m.: Republican Study Committee Chairman Mark Walker, R-N.C., says he’s not overly optimistic that the GOP health care bill will pass.

“We don’t know until we vote, and as far as we know we’re moving forward with that,” he said, adding that he hadn’t heard from leadership since Ryan went to the White House. 

“You can’t pretend that this is a win for us. I’m sure our friends on the left, this is a big moment for them, he says. “Probably that champagne that wasn’t popped back in November may be utilized this evening, we’ll see.”

2:23 p.m.: As the minutes tick down before an expected afternoon vote, many Republican members are still reticent about what side they would take — and even whether there would be a vote at all. But Democrats appear ready to hold the GOP to their planned schedule.

HFC member Mark Sanford, leaving the Capitol Hill Club where Vice President Mike Pence had made an afternoon appearance, said he didn’t know whether the House would vote on the bill.

“No comment,” Joe Barton says when asked if they have the votes.

Rep. Mo Brooks says he’s still a “no.”

Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., says later he doesn’t know whether there’s a vote today or not, and he remains “undeclared,” but “not undecided.”

House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer, meanwhile, has this to say to reporters who asked if Republican leaders would hold the vote today: “President Trump apparently ordered them to do so.”

2:07 p.m.:  Ryan returns from the Capitol after reportedly telling Trump at the White House he did not think he had the votes to pass the bill.

Ryan doesn’t come in through the center entrance that is closest to his office, where crowds of reporters, photographers and TV crews are staked out.

1:55 p.m.: Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass, pushes back on White House projections about the timing of the vote Friday afternoon.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said the House vote would take place at 3:30 p.m., but McGovern says it would be at least a half hour later.

“I don’t think he knows what he’s talking about,” McGovern says of Spicer. McGovern says the vote would be timed to conclude after the close of the markets. He adds that members have been told to be available until 5:30 p.m.

1:48 p.m.: Trump is “excited” to move to a tax overhaul package following the health overhaul push, Spicer says. He does not lay out a timeline for how quickly that might begin moving.

“Tax reform is something the president is very committed to,” he says, and adds that Trump is concerned the U.S. is not competitive on the global stage in terms of its corporate tax system.

1:46 p.m.: Pence and Price stop by the Capitol Hill club, a popular gathering place for Republican House members — and a prime location to buttonhole members whose votes are still in play. They leave at the end of lunchtime and do not answer questions about whether the bill has enough votes to pass.

1:23 p.m.: Ryan is still at the White House, where he joined a previously planned lunch meeting between Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and the president, Spicer says.

1:19 p.m.: Spicer says the House will vote — now slated for 3:30 p.m. — on the bill.

More than 120 GOP members have had meetings or calls with the president in recent days, Spicer says, adding his boss has “left everything on the field” in trying to broker some kind of deal.

He  puts responsibility for the fate of the bill squarely on the shoulders of the members of the House, but stops short of blaming Ryan, who, he says, had done “everything he can.”

“It’s going to be up to the members of the House to decide whether they want to follow through on the promise,” Spicer says. He later adds, “You can’t force a vote. We’ve given them every single reason to fulfill every promise they’ve made.”

12:58 p.m.: Barbara Comstock, a moderate Virginia Republican, is voting “no” on the bill, the Washington Post reports.

It is the first indication Comstock has given on her stance on the bill. Comstock is among a handful of Republicans from left-leaning districts in a bind over the vote. Her district voted for Hillary Clinton in November and she was almost certain to alienate significant factions of her voters no matter which side she took, the Post reported.

12:32 p.m.: With the fate of the bill still uncertain, Ryanheads to the White House  to brief Trump, according to a GOP source with knowledge of the situation.

Ryan plans to tell the president that he doesn't have the votes to repeal the health care law, according to several news outlets. Ryan also wants to discuss whether to pull the bill from consideration.

12:04 p.m.: Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., admits at a Center for American Progress Action Fund event, “All of us, from the White House down, could’ve done a better job in trying to explain the benefits of the Affordable Care Act.”

11:52 a.m.: Meadows calls negotiations on the health care bill “fragile.”

Meadows represents a crucial faction of unruly conservative lawmakers that House Republican leaders need to get on board to pass their bill. So far, he has said that he is voting “no.” He tells reporters that he had had very little sleep.

11: 32 a.m.: Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., who's undeclared on the measure, suggests the House Freedom Caucus is looking at another change to bring its members on board. He declines to give any specifics or even to explain how the change might be made.

“I can't characterize it,” he says. “Of course it has impact, but it doesn’t always have to be a change to the bill.” 

11:28 a.m.: After speaking with Meadows on the House floor, Tuesday Group co-chair Tom MacArthur says he had a productive conversation. He says he remains a “yes” vote and won’t comment on whether Meadows’ mind had changed. Meadows is a “no” vote, but has said his mind is not made up.

“We are both working to get to the right place,” he says. 

11:04 a.m.: The House clears the way for a final vote on the legislation.

In a 230-194 vote, the House passes the rule that would provide for consideration of the American Health Care Act (HR 1628). Passing a rule is a formal process that allows for immediate consideration of a piece of legislation, giving it special priority over other business before the House.

Upon adoption, the rule would automatically modify the bill to incorporate amendments that would give states the option of receiving federal Medicaid funding as a block grant with greater state flexibility in how the funds are used, and would require states to establish their own essential health benefits standards.

Six Republicans vote against the rule.

10:47 a.m.: Asked at a White House event signing an order on the Keystone XL pipeline what will happen if the health care bill fails, Trump, smiling, responds, “We’ll see,” before dismissing reporters.

10:40 a.m.: Republican Deputy Whip Tom Cole tells reporters, “This is an important vote for the conference, and for me that’s more important than any caucus” a member might be a part of.

Cole, also chairman of the House Appropriations Labor-HHS-Education Committee, predicted, “As a general rule of thumb I think if we win, it gets easier, if we lose, it gets harder."

10:35 a.m.: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi confirms that Democratic Rep. Bobby Rush is not in Washington because of the death of his wife, so there would be one less Democratic vote against the bill.

10:16 a.m.: Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas suggests there could still be substantial opposition to the bill from the Freedom Caucus, with maybe 20 “no” votes in the conservative bloc.

“There will be at least five that will vote yes, and there could be several more. So, we will see,” he tells reporters.

8:48 a.m.: Trump singles out the Freedom Caucus in a tweet — “The irony is that the Freedom Caucus, which is very pro-life and against Planned Parenthood, allows P.P. to continue if they stop this plan!”

Staff writers Stephanie Akin, Lindsey McPherson, Rema Rahman, Erin Mershon, Simone Pathe, Kellie Mejdrich, Niels Lesniewski, Rebecca Adams, John Bennett, Amelia Frappolli, Bridget Bowman, Alex Clearfield, Jason Dick and Joseph P. Williams contributed to this report.

[Trump Invokes Planned Parenthood in Appeal to Conservatives]

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