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Friday
Mar242017

Ryan says Obamacare will 'remain the law of the land' after bill failure

Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Just weeks after House Speaker Paul Ryan introduced the GOP bill to repeal and replace Obamacare -- a central campaign promise from Congress and the president -- the Wisconsin Republican pulled the measure from the floor, calling it "fundamentally flawed."

"Obamacare is the law of the land... and we're going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future," Ryan conceded a short time after the bill was dropped.

For years, Republicans had vowed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, and now with the presidency and both houses of Congress, they appeared to be in a position to do so.
But the American Health Care Act faced stiff and growing opposition from the time that it was introduced on March 6, with the chorus of moderate and conservative members of the GOP coming out against it growing.

With health care apparently behind them, Republicans appear poised to pursue other parts of their legislative agenda, including border security, rebuilding the military, controlling the deficit and tax reform.

"Now we're going to move on with the rest of our agenda because we have big, ambitious plans to improve people's lives in this country," Ryan said.

Sources told ABC that Trump called Ryan at 3 p.m. and told him to pull the bill because they could not get enough "yes" votes to push it through to the Senate after weeks of negotiations. Ryan said he and the Trump administration "came very close, but we did not get that consensus."

Ryan said at the press conference that he told Trump they should drop the bill. "He agreed with me," Ryan said.

The speaker appeared conflicted about the bill that he and the president touted as the replacement for Obamacare, which Trump said was on track to "explode."

"I'm really proud of the bill we produced," Ryan said, but later commented "it is so fundamentally flawed" that he doesn't know if it would be possible to continue to prop up the bill as-is.

He remained steadfast in his opposition to the Affordable Care Act, adding "what's probably most troubling is the worst is yet to come with Obamacare."

Ryan praised other members of Congress for their input on the bill, but cited "growing pains" as the reason why they "came up short."

"Moving from an opposition party to a governing party comes with growing pains and, well, we're feeling those growing pains today," he said.

The Speaker added that the President "gave his all in this effort... he's been really fantastic."

Repealing and replacing Obamacare has been a signature priority of the Republican Party for the last seven years.

"I will not sugarcoat this, this is a disappointing day for us," Ryan said.

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Friday
Mar242017

Trump calls Democrats 'losers' after GOP health bill failure

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump spoke out Friday afternoon after Republicans pulled the Obamacare overhaul he had endorsed, criticizing Democratic opposition to the bill and passing off the responsibility for its failure.

"I've been saying for the last year and a half that the best thing we can do politically speaking is let Obamacare explode," said Trump, who supported the plan and spent much of the past week personally lobbying for its success.

The American Health Care Act was pulled from an anticipated vote Friday afternoon after it became apparent the bill did not have enough votes to pass.

Trump, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, and other members of the administration and Republican leadership were working to win over moderate holdouts and members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus on the bill, a number of whom had opposed the measure.

In Trump's comments to the press from the Oval Office -- where he was joined by Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price -- he singled out efforts from congressional Democrats to block the bill, going so far as to call the Senate and House Minority Leaders Chuck Schumer, D-New York, and Nancy Pelosi, D-California, "the losers" in the situation.

"We had no Democrat support. We had no votes from the Democrats," said Trump at the top of his statement. "They weren't going to give us a single vote so it's a very difficult thing to do."

In 2010, Democrats passed the Affordable Care Act -- the law Republicans were attempting to "repeal and replace" -- without a single Republican vote in the House and Senate.

The president further portrayed his position Friday as one in favor of allowing the ACA to continue as law until its failure, despite his consistent call for the law's repeal throughout his presidential campaign -- often saying it would take place "immediately" as one of his first acts as president.

Within the last two weeks, Trump labeled the strategy of leaving Obamacare in place "the wrong thing to do for the country."

“I tell Tom Price and I tell Paul Ryan, I tell every one of them, I say the best thing you can do politically is wait a year because it's gonna blow itself off the map," said Trump on March 13. "But that's the wrong thing to do for the country. It's the wrong thing to do for our citizens.”

Facing his first legislative defeat and predicting the downfall of a policy that provides health insurance to millions of Americans, Trump maintained that the eventual implementation of a Republican plan "will go very smoothly," and said his administration "learned a lot." He mostly avoided assigning blame to Republicans despite continued holdouts from multiple party factions.

"We learned a lot about loyalty," said Trump. When asked if he felt "betrayed" by the Freedom Caucus, he conceded he was "disappointed" and "surprised" but tried to spin the situation in his party's favor.

"I'll tell you what's going to come out of it is a better bill," said Trump. "I really believe a better bill because there were things in this bill I didn't particularly like." He neglected to elaborate on any specific items.

As for Ryan's status as speaker of the House, the president continued to support the Wisconsin Republican and complemented his diligence while previewing the next item on the GOP's agenda.

"I think Paul really worked hard and I would say that we will probably start going very, very strongly for the big tax cuts and tax reform," said Trump. "That will be next."

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Friday
Mar242017

How the GOP health care bill failed without a vote

Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In the first big blow to the Trump administration’s legislative agenda, the Republicans’ plan to repeal and replace Obamacare failed to garner enough support to bring it to a vote on the floor of the House Friday.

At President Donald Trump's request, House Speaker Paul Ryan pulled the American Health Care Act (AHCA) off the floor moments before a scheduled vote today.

Divisions within the Republican Party ultimately led to the bill being yanked. Members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus -- along with a few moderate Republican lawmakers -- planned on opposing the bill if it went to a vote.

 

Here is a timeline of the AHCA’s journey through the House:

The bill is introduced

When House Republicans unveiled the American Health Care Act on March 6, they were met with criticism from some conservative groups.

The day after the bill was introduced, House Freedom Caucus member Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, slammed the bill as “Obamacare in a different form.”

Speaker Ryan, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price worked to defend the bill, with Speaker Ryan even holding a PowerPoint presentation to explain the AHCA.

 

The CBO report

On Monday, March 13, the Congressional Budget Committee released its report estimating that about 14 million more people will be uninsured next year if the original AHCA were enacted. In the next nine years or so, the number of uninsured would jump to 24 million more, according to the CBO.

Following the release of the CBO report, several moderate House Republicans announced opposition to the bill because of the increase in Americans without health care coverage.

Despite the CBO report, the bill seemed to be on course as it cleared two hurdles, moving forward with approval from the Ways and Means Committee and the House Budget Committee.

 

Trump heads to the Hill

March 20

A number of tweaks were made to the original legislation in an effort to muster votes. The amendments included changes to Medicaid funding, an optional work requirement for Medicaid and instructions for the Senate to construct a $75 billion fund that would provide additional tax credits to help people buy insurance.

March 21

President Trump traveled to Capitol Hill to make a personal pitch to House Republicans behind closed doors.

For roughly 40 minutes, the president spoke to House Republicans, attempting to convince them they need to pass this health care bill or risk losing their seats in the upcoming midterm elections.

President Trump also specifically pointed out Rep. Mark Meadows, the chair of the House Freedom Caucus opposed to the bill.

“I’m going to come after you,” Trump warned Meadows with a smile.

Meadows later said that he thought President Trump’s comment was made in jest.

March 22

Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pennsylvania, leader of the Tuesday Group of center-right Republicans, announced in a statement he’ll oppose the bill. Several moderate House Republicans later gathered in Speaker Ryan’s office.

The Freedom Caucus met twice during the day, in the afternoon and evening, to discuss their position on the plan. Meadows stepped out from the second meeting to take a call from President Trump, telling reporters that the caucus' goal is to hold the president to his campaign promises.

"We're still negotiating, we're all trying to get to 'yes,'" said Meadows earlier in the day.

 

Scrambling for votes

March 23

House leaders had every intention of voting Thursday on the GOP health care bill, the seventh anniversary of when President Barack Obama passed the Affordable Care Act.

President Trump met with the House Freedom Caucus at the White House with no success. Caucus members emerged from the meeting saying they still haven’t reached a point where they could support the AHCA.

The president later met with the Tuesday Group at the White House, but at around 3:30 p.m., House GOP leaders postponed the vote on the bill to Friday.

The CBO released a revised report noting no major changes to its projections of falling insurance coverage under the plan. It further noted a $150 billion decrease in the amount that the AHCA would reduce the deficit.

The House Republican Caucus gathered for one more meeting that day, and President Trump issued an ultimatum: Vote Friday or he'll move on from health care reform.

According to sources in the room, White House budget director Mick Mulvaney conveyed President Trump’s final offer to House Republicans.

“For seven-and-a-half years we have been promising the American people that we will repeal and replace this broken law because it's collapsing and it’s failing families,” Speaker Ryan said. “And tomorrow we're proceeding.”

“We have to have a vote tomorrow. He expects it to pass," Rep. Chris Collins, R-New York, told reporters after the meeting. "But he’s moving on if for some reason it didn't."

On late Thursday night, the House Rules Committee passed another amendment to the bill.

 

Bill pulled

March 24

On Friday morning, the House began debate on the AHCA, expecting a final vote on the bill sometime between in the late afternoon or early evening. Republican members continued to go public with their opposition to plan, including Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-New Jersey, the chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations.

12:25 p.m.

Speaker Ryan arrives at the White House to brief President Trump on the situation. After an hour and 20 minutes, Ryan leaves the White House and heads back to Capitol Hill.

3 p.m.

President Trump called Speaker Ryan, asking him to pull the bill from the floor.

3:30 p.m.

The House adjourned, postponing the vote. It was then that the news broke that President Trump had called Speaker Ryan.

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Friday
Mar242017

Ryan pulls GOP health care bill following call from Trump

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- House Republican leaders decided to pull their Obamacare replacement bill at the last minute at the request of President Donald Trump -- capping a rocky series of weeks since the controversial measure was introduced and an order from the president for legislators to put their cards on the table Friday.

Sources tell ABC that Trump called Speaker of the House Speaker Paul Ryan at 3 p.m. to tell him to pull the bill. The next steps were not immediately clear.

The vote would have come after House GOP leaders postponed a vote Thursday and the White House delivered a late-night ultimatum: to vote Friday or the president would move on to other agenda items.

The president has “left everything on the field when it comes to this bill,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer said earlier Friday, adding that Ryan "has done everything he can” to collect votes but “at the end of the day, you can’t force people to vote.”

Spicer said the GOP leadership and the White House had continued to pick up “yes” votes throughout the day.

The White House insisted in recent days that there was no Plan B for the legislation and that the president was all in on the measure, which had been amended amid concerns from moderate and conservative Republicans.

White House budget director Mick Mulvaney had earlier told Republican legislators if the House didn't act Friday, the president was prepared to leave the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, in place, a GOP aide told ABC News.

It’s a move right out of the president’s own book, “The Art of the Deal.”

Trump answered questions from reporters Friday morning in the Oval Office on what he’ll do if the bill fails. “We’ll have to see, see what happens,” he said.

On whether he thought the bill was rushed, he replied, “no.” He also stood by Ryan, R-Wis., saying “yes” when asked whether he should remain in his position as speaker of the House if the bill fails.

For Ryan and the Trump administration, all hands were on deck Friday. The speaker went to the White House shortly after noon to update the president, and Vice President Mike Pence canceled a trip to Arkansas to stay in D.C.

At around 1 p.m., Pence went to the Capitol Hill Club to join the House Freedom Caucus, the conservative group of lawmakers who oppose the bill unless amendments are made.

This bill needed no less than 215 "yes" votes to pass the House, lowering the number from 216 because one Democrat would have been absent for the vote.

Trump Friday morning tweeted that "after seven horrible years of ObamaCare (skyrocketing premiums & deductibles, bad healthcare), this is finally your chance for a great plan!"

The president also Friday morning called out the House Freedom Caucus, suggesting that without the GOP bill, the women's health care and family-planning organization Planned Parenthood would not be subject to funding cuts.

At least 32 Republicans had said they would oppose the bill, according to ABC News’ latest count. Because the GOP needs 215 votes for a simple majority to pass the bill in the House, it could afford to lose only 22 Republican votes to move the legislation.

Both Democrats and Republicans shared their thoughts on the bill in several animated floor speeches Friday morning.

“There are only two ways you can vote for this bill,” Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., said. “One is you don’t know what’s in the bill. Or two is you have to have a heart of stone. Because this bill is shameful.”

Rep. Jodey Arrington, R-Texas, echoed the sentiments of many moderate Republicans hoping to capitalize on GOP power in Congress and the White House: “Now that we’re given the opportunity to govern and keep our promises and to deliver results for the American people, we can’t let perfect be the enemy of good.”

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Friday
Mar242017

Trump appears to take a page from "The Art of the Deal" in health care negotiations

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- As the House of Representatives prepares to vote Friday on the GOP’s alternative to Obamacare, a question hovering over negotiations on the bill is whether President Trump’s reputation as a dealmaker in business can translate to working with Congress.

Trump’s 1987 bestselling book, The Art of the Deal, branded him as a master at cutting deals.

Over the past week, Trump has sought to apply his negotiating skills to rally support for the American Health Care Act from both moderate and conservative Republican lawmakers who have expressed either concerns about the bill or outright opposition.

Trump wrote in his book, "Sometimes, part of making a deal is denigrating your competition.”

In a closed-door meeting with House Republicans on Tuesday, the president cautioned them not to be “fools.”

According to a House member in the meeting, Trump also, with a smile, pointed out House Freedom Caucus leader Mark Meadows, who’s opposing the bill, and warned him: “I’m gonna come after you.”

Trump met with the the conservative Freedom Caucus on Thursday, but did not reach an agreement to overcome the group's concerns about the bill.

Then Friday morning, ahead of an expected vote in the House later that day, Trump posted a tweet aimed at that caucus.

Trump wrote in Art of the Deal of his persistence in negotiations.

“My style of deal-making is quite simple and straightforward. I aim very high, and then I just keep pushing and pushing and pushing to get what I’m after," he wrote.

After House GOP leaders on Thursday postponed a vote on the health care bill when it was clear they lacked the votes to ensure its passage, Trump took another page out of Art of the Deal. The White House delivered a late-night ultimatum to Republican House members: Vote Friday or the president is prepared to move on to other business.

In his book, Trump also wrote about the importance of knowing "when to walk away."

Trump answered questions from reporters Friday morning in the Oval Office on what he’ll do if the bill fails.

“We’ll have to see, see what happens,” he said.

At around 11 a.m. Friday, the House voted along partisan lines -- with most present Republicans voting yes and all present Democrats voting no -- to move the bill to the floor. Congress members will have four hours to debate the bill before voting.

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Friday
Mar242017

Paul Manafort volunteers to testify in Russia probe

Mark Reinstein/Corbis via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., announced Friday that Paul Manafort, former chairman of Donald Trump's presidential campaign, has volunteered to testify in front of the committee.

Nunes told the press in his announcement Friday that it is up to Manafort to decide whether or not his testimony will be in an open hearing. A Senate source tells ABC News that the Senate Intelligence Committee will also meet with Manafort as part of its similar investigation.

A spokesman for the former Trump campaign chairman told ABC News that Manafort contacted the House committee to volunteer his testimony for the panel's investigation of Russian interference in the presidential election and of whether any Trump associates colluded in those actions.

"As Mr. Manafort has always maintained, he looks forward to meeting with those conducting serious investigations of these issues to discuss the facts," the spokesperson said.

Nunes also clarified that Manafort is not one of the individuals caught up in incidental surveillance of the Trump transition team. Earlier this week, Nunes drew skepticism when he revealed to the press and the White House that he had new information from secret sources suggesting the Obama administration had collected surveillance on members of the Trump transition team and possibly Trump himself in the course of the investigation of Russia.

The committee chairman said Friday that the House Intelligence Committee has not received documents from the National Security Administration to officially corroborate those claims from his secret sources and said he doesn't expect to get them Friday.

Democrats have asserted that no matter what NSA documents the committee receives, the president's claims that his predecessor wiretapped him during the campaign will never be vindicated. Many have called into question Nunes' ability to conduct a fair investigation of the Russia matter.

Nunes also announced on Friday that the committee has called on FBI Director James Comey and the National Security Agency director, Adm. Mike Rogers, to return to the Hill to brief the House Intelligence Committee in a closed session. Nunes said the panel needs a private session with Comey and Rogers because there are things they couldn’t talk about publicly in Monday's public hearing.

In anticipation of that closed meeting, a previously planned March 28 hearing is now postponed, Nunes also announced.

A number of senior former intelligence and Justice Department officials had been invited to the March 28 hearing, including former CIA Director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates.

The ranking Democratic member on the Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, D-Calif., tweeted that Chairman Nunes cancelled the hearing in an "attempt to choke off public info."

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Friday
Mar242017

State department issues presidential permit for Keystone pipeline

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — The White House announced Friday it has signed off on the Keystone XL oil pipeline, authorizing the Canadian company behind the project to begin construction.

According to a press release from the Department of State, a presidential permit was issued to TransCanada Corp., authorizing the energy firm "to construct, connect, operate, and maintain pipeline facilities at the U.S.-Canadian border in Phillips County, Montana, for the importation of crude oil."

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recused himself from any decision involving the Keystone pipeline because of his previous role as the head of ExxonMobil. The department announced his recusal earlier this month, but said he made the decision as soon as he took office in early February.

The presidential permit was signed by Thomas Shannon, the undersecretary of state for political affairs.

"In making his determination that issuance of this permit would serve the national interest, the Under Secretary considered a range of factors, including but not limited to foreign policy; energy security; environmental, cultural, and economic impacts; and compliance with applicable law and policy," the State department's press release said.

The Keystone pipeline would carry oil from the tar sands of Canada to Nebraska, where it would connect with other pipelines down to the Gulf of Mexico. It requires federal approval because it crosses an international border.

Environmental groups slammed the Trump administration's decision to grant the permit, arguing that the fossil fuel project will exacerbate climate change.

“The dirty and dangerous Keystone XL pipeline is one of the worst deals imaginable for the American people, so of course Donald Trump supports it. This project has already been defeated, and it will be once again. The project faces a long fight ahead in the states," Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune said in a statement Friday. “We’re living in what feels to be the worst version of Groundhog Day imaginable, as every morning we’re waking up to yet another decision made by Trump that would be disastrous for our climate, our communities, and our health — but Trump will not succeed."

“The State Department just sent a signal to the rest of the world that the United States government is moving backwards when it comes to climate and energy," according to a statement from Greenpeace USA executive director Annie Leonard Friday. "The world simply cannot afford to transport or burn the Canadian tar sands if we hope to have any chance at avoiding catastrophic climate change. Keystone was stopped once before, and it will be stopped again.”

Friday's announcement came two months after President Trump signed memorandums aimed at advancing both the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, a move which pleased supporters of the projects and brought immediate condemnation from environmentalists and other opponents.

The Keystone memorandum, which was addressed to the departments of State, the Army and the Interior, sought to restart the presidential permit process for TransCanada. It also called on the State Department to decide within 60 days, utilizing the environmental impact study from 2014, as opposed to starting from scratch. The memo also asked the Interior Department and Army Corps of Engineers to expedite the decision.

The State department's decision to issue the permit follows years of reviews under President Barack Obama, whose administration ultimately denied TransCanada's application.

“Secretary Kerry informed me that, after extensive public outreach and consultation with other Cabinet agencies, the State Department has decided that the Keystone XL Pipeline would not serve the national interest of the United States. I agree with that decision,” Obama said in 2015 remarks rejecting the project.

Given the Obama administration’s denial of a permit, critics questioned what new information the Trump administration was considering that could lead to a different conclusion.

“We did do an extensive review previously, but we’re looking at new factors. I don’t want to speak to those until we’ve reached a decision or conclusion,” State department spokesperson Mark Toner said at a press briefing Thursday.

When questioned on how two administrations could look at the same evidence and make different conclusions, Toner told reporters, “Our review, previous review stands. Those conclusions stand. I think we’re just looking at it with fresh eyes and trying to see if there’s any new factors to look at and consider.”

Trump has promised nearly 30,000 jobs as a result of the construction of the Keystone pipeline. But according to the 2013 State department report on Keystone, the majority of the jobs created by the Keystone pipeline are temporary, with only 35 listed as permanent jobs.

In a 2014 interview with ABC News, TransCanada CEO Russ Girling said the thousands of jobs created will be during the major construction period.

“Yes, the actual operating jobs are about 50," Girling said. "But that doesn't include all the other jobs that come with it."


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Friday
Mar242017

Budget director Mick Mulvaney on fate of GOP health care bill: 'I have a lot of confidence in the president'

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — After a last-ditch appeal to House Republicans, Mick Mulvaney, the White House budget director, said Friday morning that he's not sure if there will be enough votes in the House to pass the GOP health care bill.

"That's up to the House to count their own votes," Mulvaney said in an interview on Good Morning America.

"Republicans all want the same thing," he added. "They want to get rid of Obamacare and give people the control and the options that they want, the quality that they need and the affordability they deserve. This is the chance today to deliver all of those things in the House."

Despite heavy criticism from a group of moderate and conservative Republicans, both the White House and House Speaker Paul Ryan are pushing hard for the American Health Care Act. Ryan said Thursday night that the bill will be voted on Friday.

The White House said it is "confident" the bill will pass. "We feel this should be done in the light of day, not in the wee hours of the night and we are confident the bill will pass in the morning," according to White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Mulvaney, a former member of the rabble-rousing House Freedom Caucus, told House Republicans during a meeting on Capitol Hill Thursday night that President Trump felt the time had come for a vote, sources told ABC News.

"The president wants to get rid of Obamacare," Mulvaney said on GMA. "Say what you want to about Donald Trump — this is not an ordinary politician. He wants to do this and he wants to do it now."

He went on, "That's the message I delivered on his behalf last night and I hope the House Republicans were listening. I think they were."

Trump had made his final sales pitch to conservative House Freedom Caucus members at the White House earlier Thursday. But after the meeting, caucus members said they hadn't reached a point where they could back the American Health Care Act in its current form.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released its score on the amended health bill, saying it would reduce the deficit by less than the original and leave just as many more people uninsured after a decade — 24 million.

While acknowledging the White House might not get the votes it needs to pass the health bill, Trump's budget director said he's confident in the president's ability to seal the deal.

"I have a lot of confidence in the president," Mulvaney said. "The president is a tremendous sales person, a tremendous closer. I wouldn't count him out."

 

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Friday
Mar242017

Health bill vote set for Friday as Trump draws line in the sand

tupungato/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, a central promise of GOP leadership, is set for a showdown Friday as President Donald Trump issued an ultimatum, demanding that
the House of Representatives move forward.

The American Health Care Act is being pushed full steam ahead by both Speaker Paul Ryan and the White House, despite heavy criticism from a group of moderate and conservative Republicans.

House leaders said Thursday night that the plan is to put the bill to a vote on Friday.

“For seven-and-a-half years we have been promising the American people that we will repeal and replace this broken law because it's collapsing and it’s failing families,” Ryan said. “And tomorrow
we're proceeding.”

The statement came after the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office issued a score on the amended bill, saying it would reduce the deficit by less than the original and leave just as many more
people uninsured after a decade -- 24 million.

President Donald Trump's top advisers told House Republicans in a meeting on the Hill Thursday evening that the president felt the time had come for a vote. Sources in the room told ABC News that
Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney, a former member of the rabble-rousing House Freedom Caucus, delivered President Trump's message.

"That's what POTUS wants," one attendee told ABC News.

“We have to have a vote tomorrow. He expects it to pass. But he’s moving on if for some reason it didn't," Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., told reporters after the meeting.

Senior Trump aides Steve Bannon, Reince Priebus and Kellyanne Conway were in the room but did not speak during the session, sources said.

On his way into the meeting, Priebus told ABC News he's "feeling good" about the situation. "Still feeling positive. A lot of work to do," he said.

While sources said White House officials didn't rule out further negotiations or changes to the bill, they made clear the time has come to put the conference on record.

"This is the only train leaving the station that is going to be repealing Obamacare," White House press secretary Sean Spicer told Fox News after the meeting broke. "Tomorrow it is time to vote."

House Freedom Caucus leader Rep. Mark Meadows, R-North Carolina, who has led opposition to the plan and has been courted personally by the president, was not in attendance. He told reporters
outside the meeting that he was looking to have discussions with the more moderate "Tuesday Group" later this evening.

The AHCA vote was postponed this afternoon as the party struggled to collect the votes needed to ensure its passage.

The White House said it is "confident" the bill will pass Friday. "We feel this should be done in the light of day, not in the wee hours of the night and we are confident the bill will pass in the

morning," said White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

President Trump had made his last-minute sales pitch to conservative House Freedom Caucus members at the White House earlier in the day. After the meeting, however, caucus members said they hadn't
reached a point where they could support the AHCA in its current form.

The president and caucus members discussed options and were "trying to get creative," Meadows told ABC News.

“We are certainly trying to get to yes,” Meadows told reporters on the Hill today before the vote postponement. “But, indeed, we've made very reasonable requests and we are hopeful that those
reasonable requests will be listened to and, ultimately, agreed to.”

Spicer had earlier called the meeting a “positive step” and said the White House was “very, very pleased with the direction” of the negotiations.

He also dismissed characterizations of the meeting as attempts to strike a deal.

“I think some of them stood up and said, ‘Mr. President, we're with you.’ I think a lot of them said, ‘We're going to go back and think about it.’ The meeting didn't conclude by saying, ‘Do we have
a deal?’ That’s not why we have it,” Spicer said. “This was a discussion that the president continues to have.”

Some House Republicans have grown frustrated with the demands of their colleagues in the Freedom Caucus.

"Two groups that don't represent even the majority of the Republican conference have been given every opportunity to have multiple conversations with the president and the leadership," Rep. Bradley
Byrne, R-Alabama, said. "At some point, you've got to say, 'That's it.' And we're at that point."

At least 32 Republicans had said they would oppose the bill, according to ABC News’ latest whip count. The GOP needs 216 votes for a simple majority to pass the bill in the House, so they can
afford to lose 21 votes for passage.


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Thursday
Mar232017

President Trump climbs into an 18-wheeler and pretends to be a trucker

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Donald Trump, trucker in chief?

That's the role the president briefly assumed Thursday when he climbed into the driver’s seat of a Mack 18-wheeler parked on the South Lawn of the White House.

Trump, who wore an "I Love Trucks" button on his lapel, tried his best to emulate a truck driver: He enthusiastically pumped his fists, made a series of facial expressions that lit up the
Twittersphere, and excitedly tooted the big rig's horn at least six times.

And Trump clearly didn't run out of gas: following his spirited session of trucker role play, he met with truckers and CEOs from the American Trucking Association to discuss healthcare.

"No one knows America like truckers know America," he said during the meeting. "You see it every day. You see every hill, and you see every valley and you see every pothole in our roads that have
to be rebuilt."

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