Following significant delays, a rigorous debate and Speaker Paul Ryan’s dour warnings about not having enough votes, Donald Trump asked the top House Republican and his colleagues to pull Friday’s rescheduled vote for the American Health Care Act. Murmurs of such a scenario began spreading soon after the House debate came to a conclusion when GOP leaders called for a recess and left the chamber for a closed-door huddle among party members. A strange move, to be sure, since the vote was supposed to happen as soon as the debate ended.
Meanwhile, the Washington Post‘s Robert Costa began live tweeting a conversation he was having with the president as the drama was unfolding at the House. “We just pulled it,” Trump told him, referencing the Trumpcare bill vote and his previous conversation with Ryan. Even so, as Costa later added, the president claimed, “I don’t blame Paul.”
CNN subsequently confirmed the news to a degree, citing an anonymous source with knowledge of the matter who told the outlet Trump asked Ryan during their last-minute meeting Friday afternoon to pull the House vote. Meanwhile, the speaker will deliver a press conference addressing the delayed AHCA vote and House Republicans’ plans going forward early Friday evening.
UPDATE #1: Despite Costa’s conversation with Trump, who claimed he asked Ryan and House GOP leaders to pull the vote, conflicting reports suggest Ryan ultimately made the decision to postpone the proceedings on Friday. Per CNN, two senior officials with the administration claimed the final decision to pull the AHCA vote was not the president’s, but the speaker’s.
To confuse matters even further, Katy Tur of NBC News tweeted the White House’s apparent spin for the devastating loss will claim “[Vice President Mike Pence] and Ryan made Trump do healthcare first” instead of tax reform.
What’s more, a New York Times report late Thursday seemingly confirmed the sentiment behind this spin:
[Trump] said ruefully this week that he should have done tax reform first when it became clear that the quick-hit health care victory he had hoped for was not going to materialize on Thursday, the seventh anniversary of the act’s passage, when the legislation was scheduled for a vote.
UPDATE #2: Paul Ryan delivered a brief set of remarks, and answered a few questions, during a press conference following the decision to pull the House vote. According to the speaker’s statement, he told Trump “the best thing I think to do is to pull this bill.” The president agreed, and the vote was stopped.
— CNN (@CNN) March 24, 2017
When asked for more specifics about the collective decision to cancel the AHCA vote, Ryan said they “didn’t have quite the votes to replace” Obamacare, which he added Americans would be “living with… for the foreseeable future.”