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Drama building over Republican health care bill

Health care scramble
Health care scramble 10:00

House Republican leaders continue to pull out all the stops in an effort to piece together enough votes from members of their own party to pass the American Health Care Act – the GOP measure designed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare).

A House vote on the bill was scheduled for Thursday night but it appeared uncertain early Thursday whether the vote would take place.

With all House Democrats expected to vote against the Republican legislation (except for one whose wife just died and who didn’t plan on being in Washington), the GOP could only afford to have 22 of its own vote against the bill.

But CBS News counted 31 Republican representatives as of 12:30 a.m. Thursday saying they planned to vote “no.”

The GOP-controlled House Rules Committee adjourned just before midnight Wednesday without deciding how to move forward on the bill.

It wasn’t clear when – or if -- a vote would happen. The committee gave the House through Monday to hold the vote.

Before adjourning, Chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX) told the panel, “We haven’t cut the deal yet.”

The stakes are extraordinarily high: President Trump campaigned long and hard promising to repeal and replace Obamacare, which he often describes as a “disaster,” and the vote is seen as Mr. Trump’s first big legislative test.

Even if the bill passes in the House, its prospects in the Senate were seen as dim.

The Freedom Caucus, a group of more than 30 of the most conservative House members, says it’s negotiating with the White House to include in the bill a repeal of Obamacare’s essential health benefits. That, caucus members argue, would keep premiums down.

Moderate Republicans are also balking. Late Wednesday night, Speaker Paul Ryan met with around 20 of them for more than two hours. No one would talk leaving the meeting, but after it ended, Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA), chairman of the moderate Tuesday Group, issued a statement saying he could not support the bill.

All House Republicans were slated to meet Thursday morning to try to figure out what comes next. And the Freedom Caucus has a meeting at the White House later Thursday morning.

Stay tuned.

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