A last-minute attempt by President Donald Trump to corral conservative votes for his health care overhaul has fallen short, and Capitol Hill sources indicate that the House will likely have to wait until next week for a vote.
The chairman of the House Freedom Caucus ― a band of conservative lawmakers who have opposed the bill ― said that “no deal” had been reached yet after a White House meeting on Thursday.
Should the Freedom Caucus continue to oppose the bill, its fate would be in serious jeopardy. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) can afford to lose no more than 21 votes. And with conservatives opposed, the number of House members unwilling to back the bill looks to be well above that total. (If the vote were held on Thursday ― as now looks unlikely ― Ryan could actually afford to lose 22 votes, since Rep. Bobby Rush, an Illinois Democrat, is attending a funeral. Rush is expected to be back at the Capitol on Friday.)
“There aren’t enough votes as of 1:30 p.m.,” said the Freedom Caucus chair, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.).
According to Bloomberg, the offer that Trump presented to the Freedom Caucus on Thursday was final. And it appears to have been to remove essential health benefits ― those policies that insurance companies must cover as part of plans they offer ― in the individual market only.
Sources on the Hill told The Huffington Post that they expect talks to stay open even if Trump’s offer is supposedly final. And White House press secretary Sean Spicer stressed that some lawmakers in the meeting went from opposing the bill to supporting it, with more discussions to come.
Meadows said he hoped the sides would “negotiate in good faith and get to a vote by 7 p.m. today.” But reports from the Hill suggest that the vote is most likely not coming on Thursday afternoon. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) reportedly told members that he didn’t expect a vote until Monday.
This is a developing story.