WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) — President Donald Trump was forcing a showdown on health care Friday night.
As CBS2’s Brian Conybeare reported, the vote scheduled for Thursday was postponed when Republicans realized they did not have the votes to repeal Obamacare.
Trump has now given House Republicans an ultimatum – no more negotiating and no more deals. He says they are to take a vote Friday, or Obamacare stays in place for now and he moves on to other issues.
“They know it’s no good. Everybody knows it’s no good,” Trump said earlier. “Only politics.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) also put pressure on fellow Republicans after an urgent closed-door meeting with Trump administration officials frustrated by the postponement of the vote.
“For seven and a half years, we have been promising the American people that we will repeal and replace this broken law, because it’s collapsing and it’s failing families,” Ryan said, “and tomorrow, we’re proceeding.”
Prospects for the Republicans’ showcase health care bill had looked grimmer by the minute Thursday, despite Trump’s personal lobbying of conservatives. That still left the legislation short of the votes needed for passage.
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House Republicans met behind closed doors Thursday night to consider their next steps, but said they would not vote. The White House had wanted a vote Friday.
When the day started, 31 Republicans planned to vote “no,” which is more than enough to kill the GOP’s American Health Care Act.
Republicans were intent on voting to dismantle Obamacare on Thursday, the seventh anniversary of former President Barack Obama signing the bill into law. Seven years ago, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi stood behind Obama as he signed the Affordable Care Act. On Thursday, she poked fun at Trump and his party for trying to repeal and replace it, CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported.
“Rookie’s error, Donald Trump,” she said. “You may be a great negotiator — rookie’s error for bringing this up on a day when clearly you’re not ready.”
Trump and Vice President Mike Pence had been holding meetings with lawmakers in hopes of winning more support.
“This bill has truly been a collaborative effort from the beginning,” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said during an afternoon press conference Thursday. “The president and his team have helped to negotiate a very, very strong bill.”
The administration said after repeatedly voting to repeal Obamacare, it’s time for Republicans to take a vote that counts.
“You got to vote for repeal and go back and tell your constituents like 50 times. This is a live ball now. This is for real,” Spicer said. “We’re going to do what we pledged to the American people and keep our word.”
The Freedom Caucus wants to decrease the cost of health care premiums by rolling back the Affordable Care Act’s “essential health benefits,” which mandate coverage for services like emergency room visits, maternity care, prescription drugs, and mental health care. Two dozen or so Freedom Caucus members have opposed the legislation pushed by GOP leaders, saying it doesn’t go far enough to repeal “Obamacare.”
“They think all these regulations are driving up costs,” health policy expert Paul Howard said.
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But changes to win over conservatives are driving away moderates, including Rep. Daniel Donovan (R-N.Y.) who represents parts of Brooklyn and Staten Island. He’ll vote “no.”
“Our current healthcare system is broken (but the replacement) would harm our local hospitals (and have) a harmful impact on senior citizens,” Donovan said.
Westchester County financial analyst Jordan Goodman said Medicaid cuts would indeed have a drastic impact.
“If Medicaid is cut back, a lot of New Yorkers would lose coverage,” Goodman said.
Goodman said the Congressional Budget Office estimate that 24 million Americans could lose health care under the bill is causing some GOP soul searching.
“President Trump has been saying you’re going to get better coverage, cheaper, everybody will be covered, but that’s not what the plan as currently planned is going to deliver,” Goodman said, “and I think that’s why some of the Republicans, including Dan Donovan, don’t want to go for it.”
By all counts, enough Republicans could vote no and kill the bill, but supporters insisted they will change minds.
“A lot of work has gone into this over many months, not just the last 24 hours,” said Rep. Greg Walden of Oregon. “We believe it will come to the floor today and we’ll have the votes.”
Of course, no matter what passes the House, it will face changes in the Senate.
“It’s going to be rewritten. The Senate’s going to take its own approach. That’s what the Senate does,” Howard said. “They’re not just going to sign onto the House bill whole cloth.”
Earlier in the day, Trump posted a video on Twitter Thursday asking people to get behind the plan and urging them to call their lawmakers to express support for the Republican legislation, which he called “terrific.”
In the video, Trump said that people were “given many lies” about the Affordable Care Act, and said Americans will be “very, very happy” with the GOP plan.
Meanwhile, Obama celebrated the anniversary of his landmark health care law, saying in a statement on Thursday that “America is stronger because of the Affordable Care Act.”
Obama does not directly address GOP efforts to repeal his law. The former president does say that if Republicans are serious about lowering costs and expanding coverage, and are prepared to work with Democrats, “That’s something we all should welcome.”
But, Obama says, “we should start from the baseline that any changes will make our health care system better, not worse for hardworking Americans.”
He notes 20 million Americans gained coverage under his law.
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(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)