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House Republicans Cancel Vote On Health Care Bill

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The health care vote has now been called off, after Republican leaders and the White House tried and failed to win sufficient support for the GOP legislation to undo Obamacare.

After Republican leaders abruptly postponed the vote on the GOP health care bill Thursday, President Trump declared he was finished negotiating. He sent Republicans opposed to the current measure a message through OMB Director Mick Mulvaney that he was done negotiating and he wanted the vote Friday. 

House Speaker Paul Ryan went to the White House earlier today to brief the president on the status of the vote.

Follow along here for live updates:

Paul Ryan press conference

“We came really close today, but we came up short,” Ryan told reporters after he pulled the bill from the floor. “This was a disappointing day for us.” The speaker added, “We will need time to reflect on this moment...are all of us willing to give a little to get something done?”

“I don’t know how long it’ll take us to replace this bill,” he said of Obamacare.

“Yes, this does make tax reform more difficult,” Ryan conceded. But it’s not impossible, he said, arguing that there is broader support for other parts of the GOP agenda. Health care, he said was a more complicated issue. This bill was a test not only for President Trump, but also for Ryan, the first major piece of legislation that the speaker tried to pass under Republican control of the House, Senate and presidency. 

“We were a 10-year opposition party where being against things was easy to do,” Ryan said. “You just had to be against it.”  

The vote has been cancelled

The president called the Washington Post’s Robert Costa to share the fate of the bill with him. “We just pulled it,” he told Costa. He also called Maggie Haberman of the New York Times.

Margaret Brennan confirms. In spite of intensive lobbying, Republicans and the White House failed to garner enough support for the bill.

President Trump asked Speaker Ryan to pull the bill from the floor, Catherine Reynolds reports, according to a House GOP aide. Ryan will hold a press conference at 4 p.m., and the House Republican conference is meeting right now. 

Mr. Trump had insisted yesterday that the House hold the vote. The president had been confident earlier this week that the votes would materialize, but last night, Ryan told OMB Director Mick Mulvaney that he didn’t have the votes for the bill. Mulvaney responded, “The president doesn’t care. The president wants a vote,” Major Garrett reported. Mulvaney, Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus told Republicans yesterday they could negotiate among themselves and work on new ideas, but there would be no more talks with the White House.  

This was an approach straight from the pages of Mr. Trump’s book, “The Art of the Deal.”

It’s not an approach that worked this time, but Mr. Trump may have more to say about this in his remarks, also expected later this afternoon. 

How many votes to repeal Obamacare?

Two more House Republicans announced they’re voting “no” this afternoon. According to CBS News’ latest tally, over 35 Republicans will not vote for the bill in its current form. Republicans need 215 votes for passage of the American Healthcare Act. They can afford to lose 22 votes, since Democrat Bobby Rush, whose wife recently died, will not be attending the vote. A tied vote in the House would mean that the measure fails. 

State of play

2:42 p.m. A former House speaker himself, Newt Gingrich, who is also close to the president, questioned the wisdom of bringing this bill to the floor.

1:39 p.m. Another no vote: Dave Joyce, R-Ohio. 

1:05 p.m. Rep. Barbara Comstock, R-Va., will vote no on the bill, according to Catherine Reynolds.

12:20 p.m. Speaker Ryan is going to the White House to brief the president on the health care vote.

Informed by Speaker Ryan last night that he didn’t have the votes for the bill, Mick Mulvaney said, “The president doesn’t care. The president wants a vote,” Major Garrett reports. Mulvaney, Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus told Republicans yesterday they could negotiate among themselves and work on new ideas, but there would be no more talks with the White House.

That may be a dynamic to watch this afternoon. Ryan may say he can stitch something together but just needs a bit more time. 

12:04 p.m. At this point, no one seems confident the bill will pass. One well-placed GOP aide gave the bill a 50-50 chance of passing, though another felt less positive. Staffers for House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy said that efforts to sway votes continue.

Another senior leadership aide told CBS News’ Walt Cronkite that Ryan and Mr. Trump spoke by phone for 45 minutes last night after the conference meeting. According to the aide, the president is clearly losing patience with the House Freedom Caucus, which is evident in his tweet this morning. 

11:40 a.m. Debate started about 20 minutes ago on the health care bill. It’s expected to last for at least 4 hours. 

11:17 a.m. After the president announced the approval of the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, pool reporters pressed him on the health care vote. Initially, Mr. Trump ignored the questions but eventually responded with more or less the same answer to three questions. “We’ll have to see what happens,” he said when asked what he’d do if the bill fails, whether he thinks it’ll pass, and whether he rushed the bill. He said he doesn’t believe he rushed the bill, and he also said he doesn’t regret trying to get health care legislation passed first. 

Asked whether Paul Ryan should remain as speaker, should the bill fail, he said, “Yes.”

11:13 a.m. Rep Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., chairman of the House Appropriations Committee,  just announced on Facebook that he’s opposing AHCA. The New Jersey Republican thinks it goes too far in cutting Medicaid. 

10:11 a.m. The House Rules Committee, which sets the terms of the debate and schedule for the bill, just finished its meeting, Catherine Reynolds reports. 
The committee issued the rule for the health care bill to be debated soon in House: They’ll debate the bill for four hours, include the manager’s amendments which made changes to Medicaid and the IRS code before voting, probably in the late afternoon.

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