House Speaker Paul Ryan held a press conference on Friday to discuss the Republican leadership's decision to pull the American Health Care Act (AHCA) from consideration in the House after it became clear that support for the bill was insubstantial enough to ensure its passage during a planned vote Friday.
Ryan and the rest of House leadership were in apparent denial of the bill's slim odds throughout the week, insisting it would pass on Thursday before they were forced to delay the vote to Friday after coming up short in negotiations on the legislation.
“We just didn't quite get consensus today,” Ryan said.
The bill initially faced opposition from members of the House Freedom Caucus, but as Ryan added provisions to make the bill more appealing to the conservative holdouts, moderate Republican lawmakers began to express their discontent with the law.
GOP leadership made efforts throughout the week to bring members on board with the plan, and President Donald Trump was directly involved in negotiations — which were ultimately fruitless — with the Freedom Caucus.
The failure of Republican Party to follow through on repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act — one of its foremost campaign promises — holds major implications for its plans moving forward.
“Are all of us willing to give a little to get something done?” Ryan asked at the press conference. He seemed to answer his own question later on:
“We're going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future.”
In the meantime, Republicans intend to move on to the rest of their legislative agenda. Trump said his priority was tax reform — another contentious issue — after the AHCA was pulled on Friday.
Whether or not Republicans will be able to come together on the rest of their agenda is up in the air, though Ryan indicated there are areas in which the conference finds itself in significantly more agreement than on health care policy.
Trump expressed his desire to work alongside Democrats in reforming Obamacare's current problems. At her own press conference happening at the same time, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) welcomed the concept.
“So, the president is looking forward to working with you,” a reporter laughingly told House Minority Whip Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) after the press conference ended.
He chuckled, then said, “Yeah, right.”