United States President Donald Trump suffered a stunning political setback on Friday when his healthcare bill was withdrawn at the last minute after it failed to gain enough support to pass in Congress. Trump had reportedly warned Republicans that if they did not vote for his bill then they would be stuck with former President Barack Obama's healthcare programme Affordable Care Act (ACA) for good.
Multiple reports suggested that between 28 and 35 Republicans were opposed to his bill. House Speaker Paul Ryan said he and Trump agreed to pull the vote, after it became apparent that it would not get the minimum of 215 Republican votes needed. The withdrawal is seen as a huge blow to Trump.
A GOP aide told ABC News that Trump called Ryan at 3 pm local time to tell him to pull the bill. The next House votes are scheduled for Monday, so no further votes are expected in the House for the day or the week.
The vote was withdrawn shortly after 3.30 pm local time. Ryan said he did not know what the next steps would be on healthcare, but called Obamacare so flawed that it would be hard to prop up.
"We've got to do better and we will. This is a setback no two ways about it," Ryan said at a press conference.
Repealing and replacing the programme known as Obamacare was one of his major election pledges.
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Trump told the Washington Post the healthcare bill would not be coming up again in the near future and that he wanted to see if Democrats who uniformly objected to the Republican plan would come to him to work on healthcare legislation, a Washington Post reporter said on MSNBC.
Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi lauded the defeat, saying, "Today is a great day for our country. This is a victory for the American people."
Trump had promised hundreds of times during his presidential campaign to break through "gridlock" in Washington DC bureaucracy and repeal and replace the "disaster" of Obamacare. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was confident the bill would pass up until early Friday afternoon, calling Trump "the closer."
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