Live coverage: House pulls ObamaCare repeal bill

The Hill will be offering live updates on the House GOP’s efforts to pass a bill repealing and replacing ObamaCare on Friday. 

President Trump has issued an ultimatum to his party that the bill must pass, or he will move on to other priorities

Dems thank activists for helping quash healthcare bill

5:05 p.m.

Democrats gathered on the Capitol lawn Friday afternoon to thank activists from organizations like, the ACLU, Planned Parenthood and Healthcare for America Now for mobilizing opposition to the GOP healthcare bill. 

“Today it was you … it was the power of the people that won this battle in our war against Trump’s un-American agenda,” Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) said. 

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) said Republicans’ defeat proves they can’t govern.

She quoted Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who told a Wisconsin radio host that the GOP has been an opposition party for the last 10 years and “now, in three months time, we have to go from being an opposition party to being a governing party.” 

“Today they proved they cannot govern yet,” Schakowsky said. 

GOP lawmaker: Freedom Caucus gets ‘ObamaCare forever’

4:10 p.m.

Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) is blaming conservative Republicans in the Freedom Caucus for the House GOP’s embarrassing difficulty repealing ObamaCare.

“We tried. We tried our hardest,” Burgess said. “There were people who weren’t not interested in solving the problem. They won today.”

Burgess then targeted the conservative group that has long sought to eliminate President Obama’s healthcare law.

“The Freedom Caucus wins. They get ObamaCare forever,” he said.

Trump: White House moving on from healthcare push

4:07 p.m.

Trump is moving on after the House GOP pulled its healthcare bill from the floor, he told The Washington Post’s Robert Costa on Friday afternoon. 

Trump told Costa by phone that ObamaCare repeal — the centerpiece of Republican messaging throughout the last several elections — won’t come up again in the near future. 

“He’s going to let things be on healthcare. The bill is not going to come again, at least in the near future,” Costa reported on MSNBC. 

“He wants to see what happens, if the Democrats will try to come to him and work with him on healthcare.” 

House cancels vote 

3:44 p.m. 

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) will announce he is pulling the ObamaCare repeal bill from the schedule Friday, a Ryan aide told The Hill.

He is set to deliver remarks at 4 p.m. 

GOP rep expects Democrats will pop ‘champagne’ 

3:38 p.m.

Democrats may be popping champagne if the ObamaCare repeal vote fails, predicted Republican Rep. Mark Walker (N.C.).  

“Our friends on the left — this is probably a good moment for them. The champagne that wasn’t popped back in November may be utilized this evening,” Walker said. “We’ll see.” 
Walker said leadership should put the bill on the floor, regardless of whether it has the necessary support to pass, so “people can officially put on record whether they’re supportive or not.” 

House GOP goes into conference meeting


The gavel has come down and the House is not voting on the GOP healthcare bill.

Instead, Republican lawmakers are headed into a meeting.

It could be one last chance for GOP leaders to convince their members to back the repeal-and-replace bill.

Or there could be a decision to postpone the vote.

Stay tuned.

Gingrich: Why push forward with a bill at 17 percent approval?

2:50 p.m. 

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) weighed in on the healthcare debate Friday, questioning why Republicans would go through with a vote on a bill that has such a low approval rating.

“Why would you schedule a vote on a bill that is at 17% approval? Have we forgotten everything Reagan taught us?” he tweeted. 

Earlier Friday, Gingrich said it would be Trump’s “triumph” if the bill passes. 

“No one should be confused, Obamacare repeal if it passes will be Trump’s triumph. He personally intervened to save bill when it faced defeat.” 

Gingrich defended the bill just three days ago, tweeting Tuesday: “American Health Care Act is a big step is not perfect but it is much better than Obamacare. No GOP house member should vote no.”

Pence makes last-minute visit to push bill

2:48 p.m.

Vice President Pence made an unexpected, last-minute visit to Capitol Hill to try to flip conservative lawmakers still opposed to the GOP health care bill.

Pence and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, both former House lawmakers who chaired the conservative Republican Study Committee, spent about an hour huddling with recalcitrant House Freedom Caucus members at the Capitol Hill Club.

Pence waved to reporters as he left the club and ducked into his vehicle, but he gave no comment.

At the same time Pence was on the Hill, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) was at the White House briefing Trump on the status of the bill.

Some lawmakers were speculating the bill would be yanked from the floor ahead of a Friday afternoon vote, but White House press secretary Sean Spicer said the 3:30 p.m. roll call was moving forward as planned.

A Ryan spokeswoman had no updates on the schedule.

— Scott Wong

Freedom Caucus member questions timing of vote

2:36 p.m.

A Freedom Caucus member who says he’s “struggling” to decide how to vote on the healthcare bill wants the GOP to take more time to work on the bill.

Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) has said in the last few days that he’s “struggling” wth the bill. And with a vote scheduled in the next few hours, Sanford used his allotted time to suggest the GOP should take more time to adjust the bill.

“My simple question is one of timing,” Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) said with his allotted time on the House floor.

“What I tell my boys consistently is, if you don’t know, you don’t go. And one of the things that I think we have to really look at in this bill is one of process.”

Sanford expressed concern the legislation doesn’t go far enough in fully repealing ObamaCare.

“The question is, can we build on top of that to do the very good things that are talked about in this bill, or do we take just a little bit more time to make certain that we have it right?” 

Support for the bill has been hemorrhaging over the last few hours.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) came out against the bill midday Friday, as did Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.). Both are 2018 targets for the House Democrats’ campaign committee.

Other Freedom Caucus members, including Reps. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) and Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), have reaffirmed their votes against the bill since Trump offered an ultimatum Thursday night to pass the bill or abandon ObamaCare repeal efforts.

Lewis: ‘I will fight any bill that turns the clock back to a darker time’

2:15 p.m.

Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) rebuked the GOP health care bill in a fiery speech on the House floor, saying that he will “fight any bill that turns the clock back to a darker time.”

“I’ve fought too hard and too long to back down now,” Lewis said. “I will fight any bill that turns the clock back to a darker time. I will fight every single attempt to turn a deaf ear, a blind eye and a cold shoulder to the sick, to our seniors and to working families.”

“Mr. Speaker, I will fight every day, every hour, every minute and every second a pulse is beating, with every breath and every bone in my body.”

House Democrats are on the House floor waging a furious debate against the American Health Care Act ahead of a looming vote scheduled for Friday afternoon.

Spicer says vote is at 3:30

1:20 p.m.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer says the vote will be at 3:30 p.m.

People have been wondering if the bill could be pulled given the likelihood it will be defeated. The latest GOP defection is Rep. Barbara Comstock (Va.), who represents a district won by Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in last fall’s election.

Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) visit to the White House prompted more questions about whether the GOP would go through with the bill.

RSC Chairman: There is no ‘Plan B’

12:48 p.m.

Republican Study Committee Chairman Mark Walker (N.C.) states the obvious on healthcare: Republicans have no “Plan B” if their ObamaCare bill fails.
“I have no idea because we have not discussed a Plan B,” Walker told reporters after leaving the floor on Friday. 
“I’m being authentic and genuine. There is no backroom discussions as far as if this doesn’t work out. This has been all in.” 
The Trump administration told members Thursday that the president wants an up or down vote on the bill Friday no matter what. 
If it fails, he said, he would move on to tax reform and leave ObamaCare in place. 
Ryan headed to White House

12:23 p.m.

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is reportedly headed to the White House.

It’s likely Ryan is giving Trump an assessment of where things stand for the planned healthcare vote this afternoon.

All whip counts, including The Hill’s, show the GOP will lose this vote.

Planned Parenthood: ‘The worst bill for women’s health in our lifetime’ 

12:10 p.m.

Planned Parenthood has dubbed the American Health Care Act the “worst bill for women’s health in our lifetime,” citing the elimination of ObamaCare’s essential health benefits, which requires insurers to cover 10 services, including maternity care. 

Leadership amended the bill to repeal the benefits for the 2018 plan year and give states the discretion to decide what benefits insurers must cover. 

It also provided another $15 billion for the states that can be used for maternity care and mental health services. 

“It’s crystal clear: they will sacrifice the health of every woman in this country to pass this disastrous bill. This was already the worst bill for women’s health in our lifetime — and it’s been getting worse every day,” Planned Parenthood executive vice president Dawn Laguens said in a statement. 

“The President is using Planned Parenthood, and the millions of women who depend on us for care, as part of a dangerous political game. The president knows what it means to take away care at Planned Parenthood — as he himself has said, millions of women depend on us for cancer screenings, birth control, and other essential health care. 

“Negotiating away access to cancer screenings, birth control and maternity care is not ‘pro-life’, it’s cruel.” 

Americans for Tax Reform backs bill

12:08 p.m.

Grover Norquist’s group, Americans for Tax Reform, said Friday that it will rate the vote on the American Health Care Act and urged lawmakers to vote yes.

“The American Health Care Act is — to start — a $1 trillion tax cut and a $1.15 trillion spending cut over the next decade. It’s passage makes fundamental tax reform possible this year,” Norquist said in a statement. 

“The AHCA block grants Medicaid and expands Health Savings Accounts. It’s a giant step forward in lowering taxes and reforming our nation’s health care system,” he added.

House Freedom Caucus member brushes off Trump tweet

11:55 a.m.

Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), a member of the ultraconservative House Freedom Caucus and a strong foe of abortion, brushed off Trump’s tweet Friday morning calling for conservatives to vote for the American Health Care Act because it defunds Planned Parenthood.

“I think that he’s trying to use the most compelling components of the debate possible,” Franks said with a smile when asked about the tweet. 

Franks dismissed the idea that Trump was being heavy-handed at a House Republican Conference meeting earlier in the week when he singled out Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), chairman of the Freedom Caucus. 

“The press was saying he was going after people; absolutely not, everything he said was jovial and funny,” Franks said. “In fact the names he mentioned felt special.”

Trump on Friday morning directly challenged the Freedom Caucus to support the bill, warning that they would be inadvertently supporting Planned Parenthood if they opposed it.

“The irony is that the Freedom Caucus, which is very pro-life and against Planned Parenthood, allows P.P. to continue if they stop this plan!” Trump tweeted.

More bad signs for GOP

11:12 a.m.

The House GOP managed to win their vote on the rule governing debate on the American Health Care Act.

But there were six GOP defections, a large number on a rule vote where party loyalty is prized.

The defections hint at the unease and anger in the conference. The no votes included Reps. Justin Amash (Mich.), Walter Jones (N.C.) and Thomas Massie (Ky.), who frequently buck their leaders.

House Appropriations chairman is no vote on GOP bill

11:04 a.m.

In a sign of how bad things are going for Trump and GOP leaders, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) says he’ll vote no today on the American Health Care Act. 

He said he wanted to vote yes, but “unfortunately” the legislation is unacceptable because it would place “significant new costs and barriers” to his constituents. He blasted the loss of Medicaid coverage and the cuts of essential health benefits that were demanded by the House Freedom Caucus. 

There are now 34 no votes on The Hill’s Whip List.

Trump on health vote: We’ll see what happens

10:49 a.m.

Trump is playing it cool on the healthcare vote. 

Asked what he’ll do if the American Health Care Act fails, Trump told reporters in the Oval Office “we’ll see what happens.”

He also said Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) should remain Speaker if the bill fails.

Four hours for debate

9:50 a.m.

The House Rules Committee on Friday voted to allow four hours of debate on the American Health Care Act, with no amendments allowed from the floor. 

That sets up a final vote for mid-afternoon.
Republicans appear to be short of the votes they need for passage but are hoping the president’s ultimatum at a closed-door meeting on Thursday night will change the minds of some conservatives.
Essential health benefits are out
9:47 a.m.
The Rules Committee approved the GOP plan to replace ObamaCare along party lines Friday morning with an amendment that would repeal the law’s essential health benefits in the individual market. 
ObamaCare requires insurers to cover 10 benefits, including emergency room trips and prescription drugs. The amendment from GOP leaders is an olive branch to conservatives who have threatened to vote against the bill if it does not repeal ObamaCare’s insurance regulations. 
The problem for Trump and GOP leaders is that members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus say they want more concessions. 
Another amendment from leadership approved Friday would add an additional $15 billion to a state fund that can be used for mental health and maternity services. That provision is intended to win over centrists who dislike eliminating essential health benefits. 
That will be paid for by keeping a .09 percent Medicare tax on high earners for six years. 
Tags Hillary Clinton Justin Amash Michael Burgess Mo Brooks Paul Gosar Paul Ryan Rodney Frelinghuysen Trent Franks
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