The Republican leadership in the US House of Representatives postponed the vote that had been scheduled for later on Thursday on the new healthcare plan to replace Obamacare due to the lack of support among their own party, congressional officials confirmed to EFE new agency.
The sources did not say when the vote will be held after President Donald Trump failed to convince ultraconservative Freedom Caucus lawmakers to vote for the bill.
The Freedom Caucus, a group of about 30 lawmakers from the Republican Party’s most conservative wing, met with Trump on Thursday to try and eliminate the rough edges from the bill’s contents and ensure its approval by the lower house, EFE news reported.
However, upon leaving the White House meeting, the caucus’s members, who were intending to vote as a bloc, confirmed that no deal had been reached, a situation that practically guaranteed the failure of Trump’s healthcare plan in its first trial by fire in the legislature.
“Nothing new was agreed upon,” said Representative Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), adding that the lawmakers will “go back and consider our options”.
Meanwhile, Freedom Caucus chief Mark Meadows told reporters at the Capitol that “there aren’t enough votes” to approve the bill replacing former President Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement.
With Democratic lawmakers united in their aim to prevent the repeal and replacement of Obamacare, if at least 22 Republicans were to have voted against the bill supported by Trump they would have dealt him his first big legislative defeat, and on Thursday there were more than 20 GOP opponents of the bill, according to calculations by media outlets and congressional sources.
At his daily press briefing, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer had insisted that the number of lawmakers supporting the bill continues to grow and that Trump’s meeting with the Freedom Caucus” was “a positive step” toward the aim of getting it approved.
Spicer also said that there was no reason to believe that the House vote will be cancelled, saying that the bill “is going to be approved”.
Some GOP lawmakers on Thursday, however, had pointed to the possibility the vote could be postponed.
Overturning Obamacare was one of Trump’s main campaign promises and something that Republicans have been working on for years, although they have not been able to agree on how to do that or what precisely to replace it with.
The Republican leadership’s proposal is to cut expansion of the subsidy programme for low-income citizens, as well as to end the individual mandate for acquiring health insurance imposed by the current law.
However, it does preserve certain elements such as covering “pre-existing conditions” and allowing children to remain on their parents’ insurance until age 26.