WASHINGTON – Republican leaders in the U.S. House officially conceded Thursday afternoon what most observers already knew: They did not have the votes to pass a major overhaul of President Obama’s 2010 health care law.
House leaders pushed back a much-anticipated floor vote on the issue until Friday morning, in a high-stakes gamble to pass a major revamp of the nation’s health care industry.
“I think it’s going to pass,” said U.S. Rep. John R. Carter of Round Rock, with the caveat that he thought the overnight whip process would be “a struggle.”
The process got somewhat easier on Thursday when two Republicans, U.S. Rep. Joe Barton of Ennis and Michael McCaul of Austin moved into the affirmative column. The Dallas Morning News reported McCaul’s change of heart from undecided to yes.
“I don’t have a comment other than I am glad Donald Trump got elected president so that we have a chance to bring an end to Obamacare,” said the fiercest GOP holdout of the delegation, U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert of Tyler.
Early in the day, members and staffers close to leadership were predicting a late evening vote on the bill. The vote deficit, constantly charging, was minimal, they insisted.
But by the afternoon, it was clear the legislation was in severe jeopardy.
Twice on Thursday, U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan postponed his weekly news conference. Those two moments were widely interpreted as a tell that he did not have the votes. Soon after his second delay, leadership confirmed to several news outlets they would not have a vote on the House floor Thursday night.
According to several news reports Thursday afternoon, Trump sent an emissary, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney to convey to House Republicans that the president would drop the overhaul if they did not pass a bill on Friday.