Sources on Capitol Hill said backers of the Republican health care bill that was scheduled for a vote Friday withdrew the legislation at the request of President Donald Trump.

House Speaker Paul Ryan and Trump had been working frenetically over the past few days to try to gather enough backing to pass the bill.

Ryan planned to discuss details at a 4 p.m. EDT news conference.

Meanwhile, a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll released Friday showed that nearly half of about 1,700 American adults randomly surveyed said the Republican bill was “not an improvement” over the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare — the health care reform the Republican legislation was set to replace.

Reaching out to lawmakers

Earlier Friday, Ryan briefed Trump on the status of the health care bill, hours the House of Representatives was to vote on it.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters the president had communicated with more than 120 House members about support for the bill.

On Twitter, the president singled out members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus. In his posts, Trump said the vote was their final chance to replace Obamacare, and apparently suggested their failure to support the replacement plan would allow the reproductive health care group Planned Parenthood to continue to operate.

Asked whether Ryan had effectively led the House effort, Spicer said, “I think the speaker has done everything he can. He’s worked really closely with the president.”

Spicer cautioned, however, that even if the measure failed, “there’s still a huge appetite” for Trump’s agenda, including immigration and tax reforms and an infrastructure revitalization plan.

After a closed-door meeting Friday among members of the House Democratic Caucus, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland told reporters that if the replacement bill became law, millions of Americans would be adversely affected.

“Twenty-four million Americans will lose their insurance because of this bill. Every American will pay more, and get less from their insurance policies,” he said. “And seniors, as you’ve heard, will have to pay thousands and thousands more.”

‘We’ll see’

In a brief exchange Friday with reporters in the Oval Office, Trump said little more than “we’ll see what happens” if the bill failed to win approval and responding “no” to a question about whether the bill was being rushed to a vote.

Trump had put his skills as a deal-maker on the line, but failed to win over the House Freedom Caucus and even alienated some moderates afraid for their political futures.

The Freedom Caucus had argued that the GOP health care bill violated limited-government principles by keeping too many key Obamacare provisions.

“We’re certainly trying to get to yes, but indeed, we’ve made very reasonable requests and we’re hopeful that those reasonable requests will be listened to and ultimately agreed to,” Freedom Caucus Chair Mark Meadows told reporters Thursday after a last-minute White House meeting to negotiate with Trump.

Strategy criticized

“An effective speaker, an effective leader of House Republicans would have taken one look at this bill, understood it had no chance of passage, and would have stopped the bill-writing in its tracks and never let it see the light of day,” John Hudak, a senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank, told VOA. “Paul Ryan failed to do that and he failed to do that at the expense of his own party, his own caucus and his own president.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California told reporters Thursday that Trump had made a “rookie” mistake by staking his reputation as a negotiator on a piece of legislation that was rushed to a vote without party consensus.

She told reporters that if the bill failed, “I stand ready to negotiate with them on how we can go forward in incorporating their ideas, saving face for them in some areas and doing right for the American people.”

 

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