Health care vote - the latest news

Last Updated Mar 24, 2017 6:18 PM EDT

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.

Here’s how it played out:


Trump 

5 p.m. “We were very, very close,” the president said, in reaction to the defeat of the Republican health care bill. It was a “very tight margin” which came with  “no Democrat support...they weren’t going to give us a single vote,” Mr. Trump noted.

He denied ever placing a timetable on the repeal of the ACA. “I never said repeal it and replace it within 64 days,” he said. However, acting quickly to replace Obama’s signature bill was a staple of his campaign speeches.

“[F]rom day one I’ve been talking about we’re going to repeal and replace Obamacare from day one, we’re going to do it,” candidate Trump said in Milford, New Hampshire in February 2016.

Now, the president indicated he’s ready to move on, saying, as he has in recent days, “The best thing we can do, politically speaking, is let Obamacare explode. It’s exploding right now.” The new next plan for the president may well boil down to something like “collapse and repeal.” The president promised, “We’ll end up with a great bill in the future, once Obamacare collapses.” It’s fair to let it explode, he said. Mr. Trump predicted that there will soon be states that won’t be covered, and eventually it won’t be sustainable.

Mr. Trump said he learned “a lot” about some “very arcane rules” in the Senate and the House in the process. 

Onto tax reform next, he told the pooled reporters gathered in the Oval Office. 

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. “We’re going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future.”

“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 legisation 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.

3:35 p.m. Margaret Brennan confirmss. 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 at 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. 

Debate begins

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. 

Trump on health care vote

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 bill, he wrote, is “currently unacceptable.” 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.

8:26 a.m. The president may be done negotiating, as Mulvaney said to Republicans last night, but he’s not done tweeting about the health care vote.

7:40 a.m. House Rules is meeting now. This morning, OMB Director Mick Mulvaney was asked why issuing an ultimatum to House Republicans would be effective now, when it hasn’t worked before. 

“Because I think you’ve about got a new president in place and a president who tried to deliver the message last night, which is that the Republicans are all on the same page,” he told “CBS This Morning.” The seventh anniversary of the signing of the Affordable Care Act was yesterday, and “today should be the beginning of its unwinding,” Mulvaney said.

“Lawmakers will have to be accountable as to why they didn’t vote to get rid of Obamacare when they had the chance,” he said, “and that chance is today.”

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ)  is the latest to announce he intends to vote against the GOP health care bill, bringing the number of House Republicans who plan to vote “no” to 35. Only 22 no votes are needed for the measure to be rejected in that chamber. 

12:56 a.m.: The House Rules Committee will meet Friday at 7 a.m. to discuss the Republican health care bill. An amendment to the bill has been filed with the panel by House Speaker Paul Ryan. According to CBS News’ Catherine Reynolds, the four-page amendment includes:

  • Transferring control to states to define Essential Health Benefits, which would give states the ability starting in 2018 to determine EHBs for individuals purchasing insurance with a tax credit 
  • Dedicate an additional $15 billion to the Patient and State Stability Fund (PSSF) to provide resources for services included in the EHBs, including maternity, mental health, and substance abuse care  
  •  Delay the repeal of the Medicare Tax Increase for six years, until January 1, 2023; those resources would pay for the increased funds to the PSSF

The House Freedom Caucus met Thursday night, but didn’t announce how they would vote Friday. Rep Justin Amash (R-MI) said as he left the meeting that he thought the majority of the Freedom Caucus would oppose the bill and it will fail on Friday.

Friday evening, White House OMB Director Mick Mulvaney came to the GOP conference with a message to deliver: Negotiations are over. He told them President Trump wants a vote tomorrow, and then he will move on to his other priorities. 

If Republicans fail, we are stuck with Obamacare, Mulvaney warned, and we all get blamed. 

The Congressional Budget Office also released a new score for the bill Thursday. It’s unlikely to change any minds, given that the manager’s amendment earlier this week had a minimal impact on the score. The numbers of uninsured remained unchanged (there are still expected to be 24 million more people uninsured under the AHCA, than under the ACA in 2026), but the revised measure would be a little worse for deficit reduction, cutting $151 billion, instead of the $337 billion in the original bill. The higher costs are a result of the repeal of some of the Obamacare taxes, other changes to the tax code and to Medicaid per capita allotments.

House Speaker Paul Ryan made an extremely brief statement to reporters after the conference meeting: “For seven and a half years we have been promising the American people that we will repeal and replace this broken law and tomorrow we’re proceeding,” he said.

He did not answer shouted questions as to whether he has the votes.