(ABC NEWS) – Republican leadership has decided to pull their Obamacare replacement bill at the request of President Donald Trump.
After House GOP leaders postponed a vote Thursday when it was clear they lacked the votes to ensure the bill’s passage, the White House delivered a late-night ultimatum: Vote today or the president is prepared to move on to other business.
The president has “left everything on the field when it comes to this bill,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer said today at an afternoon press briefing, adding that House Speaker Paul 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 continue to pick up “yes” votes, but it remains unclear whether they will be able to persuade enough of their party’s lawmakers to vote for the bill this afternoon.
White House budget director Mick Mulvaney had earlier told Republican legislators if the House doesn’t act today, the president is 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 this 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 Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., saying “yes” when asked whether he should remain in his position as speaker of the House if the bill fails
At around 11 a.m. today, 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.
For Ryan and the Trump administration, all hands are on deck today. The speaker went to the White House shortly after noon to update the president, and Vice President Mike Pence canceled a trip to Arkansas today 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 needs no less than 215 “yes” votes to pass the House, lowering the number from 216 because one Democrat will be absent for the vote.
Trump this 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 this 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.
Asked this morning on “Good Morning America,” if the bill has enough votes to pass, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney could not say for certain.
“Don’t know,” Mulvaney said. “That’s up to the House to count their own votes.”
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 can afford to lose only 22 Republican votes, depending on whether all Democratic members are present, to move the legislation.
Both Democrats and Republicans shared their thoughts on the bill in several animated floor speeches this 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.”
And even if the bill passes the House, its future in the Senate is unclear.ABC News’ Riley Beggin, Mary Bruce, John Parkinson and Alex Mallin contributed to this story.