Moments before the House of Representatives was scheduled to vote on the widely reviled Republican health care plan Friday afternoon, the vote was abruptly called off amid fears of landslide defeat. In the end, President Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan were unable to convince enough members of the far right Freedom Caucus, enough moderate Republicans or a single Democrat to vote for their plan.
“Moving from an opposition party to a governing party comes with growing pains, and, well, we’re feeling those pains today,” Ryan said at a press conference later that afternoon.
Before Ryan even stepped out before the cameras, Trump was furiously attempting to spin the epic defeat in personal phone calls to individual reporters. First, he called Washington Post reporter Robert Costa. Trump told Costa he made the decision to pull the bill from the floor, and that he didn’t blame Ryan for the AHCA’s failure.
After that, he dialed New York Times White House correspondent Maggie Haberman. Trump insisted to Haberman that the bill’s failure was Democrats’ fault, and predicted they may be more willing to compromise when the Affordable Care Act “explodes.”
For more than seven years, Republicans around the country were elected promising their constituents they would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. While President Obama was still in office, Republicans held 60 “show votes” to repeal the bill, well aware that Obama would never sign them into law. On Friday, Ryan admitted, “We’re going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future.”
Republicans hold a healthy, 21-vote margin over Democrats in the House – more than enough votes to pass any piece of legislation if they’re united on it. Nevertheless, in his own remarks from the Oval Office, Trump tried to pin the blame for the bill’s failure on Democrats. “We were very close; it was a very, very tight margin. We had no Democrat support, we had no votes from the Democrats. They weren’t going to give us a single vote, so it’s a very hard thing to do,” Trump said.