Even with another major push to get Republicans on board with a plan to overhaul the Obama health law, House GOP leaders were unable to bring the bill to the floor for a vote on Friday, still short of the support needed to squeeze out a majority for a major campaign promise.
A day of arm twisting finally ended around 10 pm on Thursday night, as House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) told reporters that there would be no vote on Friday or Saturday on health care, and that Republicans would try again next week.
“We’re going to go when we have the votes,” Speaker Paul Ryan had told reporters earlier in the day, as it became painfully evident for the GOP in the hours after that statement – again – that they were short on votes.
“I think they are real close,” said Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL) Thursday afternoon about the vote count, who said GOP leaders “want to be certain “before taking the bill to the House floor.
Overall, Republicans were closer than previous attempts, as more conservative lawmakers who had resisted the bill in previous weeks, got on board in recent days.
“I think the recent amendments to the health care bill have been very significant,” said Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), a member of the more conservative House Freedom Caucus, who said he was ready to vote for the bill this time.
“I commend President Trump, Vice President Pence, Speaker Ryan, and my colleagues for keeping the lines of communication open, which has ultimately led to a better bill,” said Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA), another Freedom Caucus member who was ready to vote “Yes.”
The bigger problem was the reluctance of more moderate Republicans to back the plan, as many said they felt like it was a step backward.
So, the bottom line as lawmakers go home this weekend is the same – Republicans still haven’t found the magic formula to get the health care bill through the House.