(Fox News) – Republican leaders canceled a vote in the House on the plan to replace ObamaCare Thursday, after leadership’s attempts to lobby enough votes apparently failed — a major setback for House Speaker Paul Ryan and President Trump.
Trump and Republican leaders had spent much of the day scrambling to get both moderates and conservatives on board with the increasingly unpopular legislation.
Ryan postponed his press conference twice as he worked with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy R-Calif., Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., and Chief Deputy Whip Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., to get enough votes to get the American Healthcare Act through the House on the seventh anniversary of ObamaCare’s passage.
Meanwhile, Trump met inside the Cabinet room with the House Freedom caucus to try and rally conservatives to the cause. He also tweeted, urging supporters to call their representatives to back the bill.
A senior administration official told Fox News after the meeting with Trump and the conservative group that there was a deal in the works, but that it was not yet finalized. A source from the Freedom Caucus said there wasn’t yet a deal.
Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., had warned it would be a “Herculean task” to resolve their differences quickly. Rep. Dave Brat, R-Va., said, “Any package of insurance regs that the president offers us that bends the cost curve down, I’m a yes. It’s that simple.”
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said at his press briefing Thursday afternoon that the White House was still confident of a vote, and also that it was confident the legislation would pass..
“It’s going to pass. That’s it,” he said.
Spicer also noted that Trump had been making calls past 11 p.m. Wednesday night to try and bring members on board.
Sources later told Fox News that the White House was anticipating a vote after midnight, but that was before the vote was canceled.
House Republicans were due to meet about the around 7 p.m. ET, but there appeared no clear path to pass the bill.
In appealing to conservatives with concessions that include limiting requirements that plans offer benefits including maternity and substance abuse care, Republican leaders risk scaring off moderates. A plan to cut funding to Planned Parenthood also risked spooking centrist Republicans.
Meanwhile, Democrats blasted what they saw as Republicans’ amateurish maneuvering. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said it was a “rookie’s error” to bring the legislation to a vote so early, and urged fellow Democrats to oppose the legislation.
“While Republicans scramble to make TrumpCare even more destructive, our Caucus must continue to be fully engaged today in exposing its disastrous consequences for the American people,” she told colleagues in a letter Thursday.
The AHCA would stop ObamaCare’s tax penalties against Americans who choose not to buy coverage, as well as cutting the federal-state Medicaid program for low earners. It would also give tax credits to help people pay medical bills, while allowing insurers to charge older Americans more. It would also repeal tax increases on high-earners and health companies.