On Friday night Donald Trump abandoned his healthcare bill after it became clear it had no chance of passage and hence it was pulled before anyone could vote on it. Trump said that his administration’s effort to repeal and replace Obamacare would likely be suspended for some time, putting the rest of his agenda at risk as the tax savings from a new health care bill will now not be available. After the about-turn Trump admitted that he could not get the votes he needed saying ‘We were very close, it was a tight margin’ whilst conceding that ‘We have to let Obamacare go its own way for a little while’ but still believing it was ‘now likely to explode.’
The decision to pull the vote came after Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan told Trump that the GOP leaders had not been able to persuade enough of their fellow republicans to support the bill. This along with opposition from the democrats ensured that it was doomed to failure, so Trump avoided the embarrassing defeat by pulling the vote.
All 193 Democrats who hold seats in Congress were anticipated to vote against the bill. Although they are in a minority in the house the problem came from a handful of both conservative and moderate Republicans and for differing reasons. The conservatives believed the bill did not go far enough to repeal Obamacare, whilst at the other end of the scale the moderates were afraid that if the bill was passed as presented, millions of people would be left uninsured and see dramatic increases in their health-care costs.
Never one to take the blame, Trump turned on the Freedom Caucus members soon after the defeat, tweeting ‘Democrats are smiling in D.C. that the Freedom Caucus, with the help of Club For Growth and Heritage, have saved Planned Parenthood & Ocare!’ The Freedom Caucus movement is a congressional caucus consisting of conservative Republican members in the House of Representatives that did not see it that way. They believe that the bill did not go far enough and would cost too much in its present form. Republican Mark Meadows, chairman of the caucus believes this is not the end of the debate, saying ‘I can tell you as I've looked at all of this, I said, could I have spent a little bit more time, should I have spent more time with the Tuesday Group, more time with Democrats to find some consensus’ adding ‘As we look at this today, this is not the end of the debate’. For Trump this damaging defeat means he will want to get all his ducks lined up for any future votes, however there is no guarantee that his tax and spend agenda will be any easier to get passed.