After the GOP's controversial plan to repeal and replace Obamacare received a slew of criticism from both Democrats and Republicans, House GOP leaders postponed Thursday's scheduled congressional vote on the American Health Care Act. Following an evening of tense closed-door meetings and pressure from the president to move the bill forward, the White House and House Speaker Paul Ryan have confirmed that the time for negotiating is over: The AHCA vote will be held on Friday.
The White House Office of Budget and Management Director Mick Mulvaney reportedly said that Trump is issuing an ultimatum to party leaders: pass the health care bill or else. If the vote is not held on Friday, according to Mulvaney, Trump will leave Obamacare in place and move on to other priorities, NBC News reports.
The AHCA has received backlash from liberals for threatening the affordability of insurance coverage for millions of low-income Americans, and from conservatives for not doing enough to repeal key aspects of Obamacare, like Medicaid subsidies. The bill needs 215 votes in order to move on to the Senate, and, as no Democrats are expected to support the new health care plan, only 22 Republicans can vote against it in order for the bill to pass. As of Thursday afternoon, at least 30 Republicans refused to support the bill according to an NBC News tally.
BREAKING: House Republicans say they will vote on health care bill Friday although still struggling to secure votes.— The Associated Press (@AP) March 23, 2017
Speaker Ryan and White House representatives have spent the past week scrambling to rally support for the bill, including making revisions intended to appeal to conservative groups like the House Freedom Caucus. Apparently even President Trump, who has often boasted of his negotiation skills, couldn't keep GOP leaders from saying "no deal." The necessary 215 votes to pass the bill have still yet to be secured, leaving the future of the health care plan in jeopardy and the insurance coverage of millions of Americans hanging in the balance.
Trump's ultimatum reveals the growing tensions that have been brewing over the past few months within the Republican Party, which has promised for years to repeal the Affordable Care Act despite lacking a clear consensus on what exactly should take its place.
This new Trump ultimatum is really a middle finger to all GOP lawmakers who care about process and policy. I hope they call his bluff.— Greg Sargent (@ThePlumLineGS) March 24, 2017
It's unclear if Trump would stick to his word if the bill does fail to pass in the House vote on Friday. His comments about potentially leaving Obamacare as-is to focus on other initiatives suggests either an ambivalence that is in stark contrast to the rest of the party's fervent resolve to scrap the Obama-era plan at all costs, or a motivating bluff that will ultimately accomplish exactly what the president wants.
Either way, Friday is set to be an interesting, and tense day on Capitol Hill, and Republican leaders will have to act fast to negotiate with naysayers if they don't want to see their opportunity to implement a new health care plan slip away after years of waiting.