WASHINGTON — GOP House leaders delayed their planned vote Thursday on a long-promised bill to repeal and replace “Obamacare,” in a stinging setback for House Speaker Paul Ryan and President Donald Trump in their first major legislative test.
The decision came after Trump, who ran as a master dealmaker, failed to reach agreement with a bloc of rebellious conservatives. Moderate-leaning Republican lawmakers were also bailing on the legislation, leaving it short of votes.
The bill could still come to a vote in coming days, but canceling Thursday’s vote was a significant defeat. It came on the seven-year anniversary of President Barack Obama signing the Affordable Care Act, years that Republicans have devoted to promising repeal.
Those promises helped them keep control of the House and Senate and win the White House, but now, at the moment of truth, they are falling short.
“No deal,” House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, R-N.C., said after he and his group of more than two dozen rebellious conservatives met with Trump to try to get more concessions to reduce requirements on insurance companies.
The Republican legislation would halt Obama’s tax penalties against people who don’t buy coverage and cut the federal-state Medicaid program for low earners, which the Obama statute had expanded.