House Speaker Paul Ryan said he and President Trump agreed to withdraw the vote, after it became apparent it would not get the minimum of 215 Republican votes needed.
Republicans have a majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.
However, multiple reports suggested that between 28 and 35 Republicans were opposed to President Trump’s draft American Health Care Act (AHCA).
Some were said to be unhappy that the bill cut health coverage too severely, while others felt the changes did not go far enough.
The new healthcare bill also appeared unpopular with the public – in one recent poll, just 17% approved of it.
Image source Getty Images
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated the AHCA would reduce the deficit by $336 billion between 2017 and 2026.
However, the number of Americans without health insurance would stand at 52 million by the same time – an extra 24 million compared with ObamaCare.
Speaking after the withdrawal, President Trump repeatedly said ObamaCare would “explode”.
However, he refrained from criticizing Paul Ryan, whose job as speaker of the House involves rallying support for controversial bills.
President Trump said: “I like Speaker Ryan. I think Paul really worked hard.”
Paul Ryan also told reporters the president had been “really been fantastic”.
Donald Trump said the Republicans would probably focus on tax reform for now.
“We have to let ObamaCare go its own way for a little while,” he told reporters at the Oval Office, adding that if the Democrats were “civilized and came together”, the two parties could work out a “great healthcare bill”.
“We learned about loyalty; we learned a lot about the vote-getting process,” he said.
Earlier Paul Ryan told reporters: “We are going to be living with ObamaCare for the foreseeable future.
“I will not sugar-coat this. This is a disappointing day for us. Doing big things is hard.
“We were a 10-year opposition party where being against things was easy to do.”
Leader of the House minority Democrats Nancy Pelosi described the retraction as “a victory for the American people”.
However, March 23 vote was delayed because of opposition from some Republicans – despite President Trump’s repeated attempts to persuade them to back the legislature.
The president now says he wants to move on and vote – whatever the result on March 24.
White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said this was exactly the message delivered to Republican lawmakers at a meeting behind closed doors on March 23.
Image source Wikipedia
House Speaker Paul Ryan said: “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, and tomorrow we’re proceeding.”
Meanwhile, New York’s Republican representative Chris Collins said: “The president has said he wants a vote tomorrow, up or down.
“If for any reason it is down, we are just going to move forward with additional parts of his agenda.”
Repealing and replacing ObamaCare was a major plank of Donald Trump’s election campaign.
March 23 vote postponement is a setback for the president who had insisted he would win the numbers to pass it through the lower chamber of Congress on that day.
Earlier on March 23, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said President Trump had made a “rookie’s error for bringing this up on a day when clearly you’re not ready”.
The healthcare bill needs 215 votes to pass but ran into opposition mainly from conservative Republicans who believed it did not roll back enough of Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
ObamaCare helped 20 million previously uninsured Americans get health insurance but has been plagued by increases in insurance premiums, which were also a problem before the health law.
Donald Trump promised a new law that would cover more people and at a lower cost.
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