GOP lawmakers leave Trump White House with no deal

GOP lawmakers leaving the White House after a meeting with President Trump said they have not reached a deal that would allow them to support an ObamaCare repeal-and-replace bill set for a vote Thursday.

Republicans appear short of the 215 votes they'd need to win the tally, leading several lawmakers to predict that the vote will have to be delayed until Friday.

The members streaming out of the White House just after 1 p.m. characterized the meeting positively but showed no signs of a shift toward more favorable ground for the White House.

“Nothing new was agreed upon,” said Rep. Paul GosarPaul Anthony GosarRepublicans offer 'free market alternative' to paid family leave GOP lawmaker attacks critic as 'a little bitch' on Twitter Overnight Defense: NATO chief urges US to support alliance on its 70th anniversary | Turkey rebuffs Pentagon pressure over Russia deal | Rand Paul, liberals team up to push Trump on Syria withdrawal MORE (R-Ariz.)

He added the group will “go back and consider our options.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Freedom Caucus Chairman Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) said Thursday afternoon as he left a Freedom Caucus meeting that there is no deal yet but the group will "stay as long as it takes to get this done." 

"The president will get a victory," he added. 

Meadows said he is still a no but is "desperately trying to get to yes."

He said he is in talks with the moderate Tuesday Group, as well. He cautioned that his group needs more time to read and understand sections of the bill, and said he did not know when a vote will be.

Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) said leaving the meeting Thursday afternoon that the White House offered a repeal of essential health benefits at a meeting earlier in the day, calling the move "very substantive."

However, other Freedom Caucus members said that is not enough and more regulations need to be repealed to bring down premiums.

Republicans need 215 votes to win passage, meaning they can afford 22 defections. A whip list kept by The Hill shows that five dozen members are either planning to vote no, leaning against the bill or uncertain of how they vote. A full 30 members on that list are no votes.

South Carolina Rep. Jeff Duncan told The Hill that Trump, who joined them in the meeting, didn't make an explicit ask. 

“He was very gracious, he laid out his points but no firm decision has been made by those in the room,” Duncan said. 

“And he didn't ask us, he didn't get on the table and ask us for that. He asked us to seriously consider the position we are in.”

The White House released a readout just before 2 p.m. that lauded the meeting as “productive” and a “positive step” but offering little information about the specifics discussed. 

While Arizona Rep. Trent FranksHarold (Trent) Trent FranksArizona New Members 2019 Cook shifts 8 House races toward Dems Freedom Caucus members see openings in leadership MORE would not reveal his position, he said that nothing in the meeting changed his mind.  

He instead praised House leadership and the White House for handling what he views as a difficult situation, lamenting the position the party faces as criticism mounts over the Republican plan for a repeal and a replacement. 

“One tragedy of all of this is that ObamaCare was put into place by all Democrats and now Republicans, in trying our best to alleviate the tragedy and save the country are going to have to take a lot of the punishment,” he said. 

Conservatives have been asking the White House to make changes to the bill, including ending the mandate that insurers cover “essential health benefits” that they argue raise premium rates.

But changing the bill to meet demands from the right has caused some centrists to announce that they will oppose the legislation. Centrists have raised questions about whether their constituents would be better off with ObamaCare than the GOP replacement bill.

A Quinnipiac Poll released Thursday found only 17 percent backed the GOP plan, compared to 56 percent of voters who oppose it.

Trump plans to continue his healthcare pitch Thursday afternoon with a White House sit-down with members of the moderate House GOP Tuesday Group, according to press secretary Sean Spicer. 

The spokesman said the president has been on the phone with “scores of Republican members" late Wednesday night and into Thursday. 

Peter Sullivan contributed.