In a devastating setback, the House of Representatives has postponed a planned vote on the American Health Care Act, the Republican bill to repeal Obamacare. The announcement came while a debate over the bill was still playing out in the House chamber, with GOP leaders realizing they lacked the votes to prevail.
The postponement, which came less than 24 hours after president Donald Trump had issued an ultimatum to the House demanding a vote, is a significant defeat for Trump and Ryan, and a setback in the crusade against Obamacare that has defined Republican Party politics for seven years. It was not immediately clear when Congress plans to resume consideration of repeal ― or whether it will do so at all.
The announcement, which capped a week of chaotic activity surrounding the Trump administration and the GOP-controlled Congress, was first reported by Washington Post’s reporter Robert Costa who spoke to the president directly.
Trump’s demand was an audacious act of political brinkmanship, designed to rattle and win over dissident Republican lawmakers who, for various reasons, were objecting to the bill.
But the gambit failed, and it failed spectacularly. In short, the ‘so-called’ dealmaker blew it.
Now, instead of celebrating a victory over Obamacare, Trump and Republican leaders must figure out whether and how to press ahead with repeal ― and where that fits into the rest of their governing agenda.
During the campaign, Trump boasted about being the master of the deal and promised cheap, great healthcare for everyone. “It would be so easy,” he said at an October rally in Florida:
“With a Republican House and Senate, we will immediately repeal and replace the disaster known as Obamacare…You’re going to have such great health care, at a tiny fraction of the cost—and it’s going to be so easy.”
Of course, he was just blowing smoke. Watch: