The stakes were high and the White House called all in on the Obamacare repeal, the American Health Care Act. The new bill, commonly called Trumpcare, was imperiled by opponents of the President’s own party for days, facing delay after delay trying to whip up votes. Trump threatened Republican dissenters before finally issuing an ultimatum: pass it today or keep the Affordable Care Act.
The house withdrew Trumpcare and stands in recess, calling the President.
This failure to pass signature legislation is a critical blow to a President who literally wrote a book called “The Art of the Deal”.
At the end of the standoff, tactics ranging from threats and coercion to a promise to abandon the fight and leave the consequences to the House failed to close the deal with both moderate and ardent conservatives, opposing the replacement for Obamacare for very different reasons.
“We just pulled it,” Trump told the Washington Post. He added of the Speaker: “I don’t blame Paul.”
Trump had initially demanded a straight up-or-down vote to happen today, but as it became clear the proponents of Trumpcare lacked the necessary votes, the vote was withdrawn.
Both the White House and Speaker Paul Ryan were confident that they had votes to approve Trumpcare in the House, but Representatives like Mark Meadows (R-NC) were never optimistic about the likelihood of the bill’s passage.
Trumpcare needed no more than 21 Republicans to join Democrats in voting no in order to pass. Media reports placed the number of likely Republican votes against as high as 38.
The question going forward is how serious the President was in his pledge to abandon Obamacare’s repeal if the vote was not held and bill was not passed today.
If true, the American Health Care Act and Obamacare’s repeal in general may fall to the wayside after the House’s recess, which would be abandoning a central thrust of the President’s campaign. If he does return to the negotiating table over Trumpcare and attempt to pass it again, his threat was empty, and he loses a lot of his bargaining position in future negations.
In either case, today’s withdrawal of Trumpcare is nothing short of a crippling blow to the Administration’s agenda, and a decisive win for Obamacare, which lives to fight another day.