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AHCA is Dead: Facing Defeat, Ryan and Trump Pull Legislation From Floor

UPDATE V - And now it's official.  The ACHA is out.  Looking at a dire whip count, President Trump and Speaker Ryan decided to yank the bill from the floor, rather than forcing members to take difficult votes for no reason.  The game of chicken ended with 
a dramatic threat, then a climb-down. A debacle. So what, if anything, comes next on Obamacare 'repeal and replace'?  Nobody knows, but the president tells the Washington Post he isn't especially interested in revisiting the issue any time soon:

UPDATE IV - More indications now that this thing is going to fail. If that's the case, Trump reportedly wants an on-the-record vote so he can keep a hard tally of which Republicans betrayed him -- but Paul Ryan may have other incentives to not force his conference to have to cast really tough up or down votes on something that doomed legislation:

UPDATE III - This is not a vote leadership can afford to lose. It's looking like this thing is going down, and could be tanking so hard that they (again) pull the bill, rather than watching it collapse as the votes come in:

UPDATE II - If this is true, the goose is cooked, and they only question is whether the vote even gets held at all:

UPDATE - Well, it seems safe to say that losing a powerful chairman from your own party's leadership team doesn't seem like a particularly hopeful sign:

*** Original Post ***

The president's gauntlet has been thrown down. The stakes have been made clear by his emissaries and by House leadership. The vote is happening. What happens next? As we reported last night, it appears as though this 'Art of the Deal' tactic might be playing dividends in terms of whip count movement -- both among moderates and hard-line conservatives. Why? My guess is that a lot of people don't want to cross Trump on his first major legislative test, which just so happens to coincide with the most prominent campaign pledge the entire party has been making since 2010. Also, does anybody doubt the White House's sincerity when it says that the president is tired of all of this, and is willing to walk away from health care altogether? It's do or die time, and some tea leaves suggest that Trump and Ryan may just pull this one out after all:

Or...maybe not:

I've heard increased optimism from some supporters over the last few hours, but the fact that the White House is already testing 'blame game' trial balloons against Paul Ryan does not project confidence, to put it mildly. As of now, the vote is expected late this afternoon. A few things to remember as this vote unfolds: (1) If it fails, it's a humiliating black eye to House leadership, and a real blow to Trump's agenda moving forward. The idea that Republicans can just "move on to tax reform" isn't as simple as it may seem. Absent a new, post-Obamacare budget baseline, tax reform becomes a lot harder, politically and procedurally. And the GOP is 
already warring over how to implement tax reform. Almost nobody believes it would be easier than 'repeal and replace' was supposed to be. (2) If it passes, it isn't law. As Quin Hillyer wrote yesterday, this is still multiple steps removed from final passage, with really significant excavations expected in the Senate, and then in a conference committee. That's a good thing, because as the current bill stands, it is flawed and shoddily thrown together. Read these pieces:
More time and consideration is necessary to re-craft a coherent, functional piece of legislation. Good ideas are still out there, and they should get substantive hearings that aren't rushed through at warp speed under this "pass it now" gun. The Senate is ostensibly the world's greatest deliberative body. Let them fortify that reputation. The point is, passage today is still a far cry from the current AHCA being law. That's a good thing.

(3) The procedure here stinks, there's no getting around it. After rightly slamming how the Democrats rammed through Obamacare, Republicans are about to vote on a bill that has not been posted for public consumption for several days as promised (remember the "read the bill" mantra?), and doesn't even have a finalized Congressional Budget Office score (last night's 
problematic addition was already totally out of date upon arrival). One big difference that cuts in the GOP's favor is that Obamacare repeal is hardly a surprise, as they've been successfully campaigning on it for the better part of a decade. But that doesn't change the fact that the current legislation isn't popular with the public, due in part to Democratic unity, hostile media narratives, and Republican infighting; not to mention a barely-defensible, cobbled-together bill with questionable additions tacked on at the very last second.  If an eventual law works, Republicans will have nothing to worry about. If it doesn't work, and the individual market continues to collapse while prices fail to drop for consumers, they're in deep trouble.

That's why any finalized bill that may emerge as this process unfolds must reassure enough Republican lawmakers that those key objectives have been fulfilled in a responsible and sound manner. But if President Trump is to be believed, an eventual bill will never emerge if this first step is killed in the cradle. Perhaps the best argument in favor of voting 'yes' on today's iteration of the AHCA is that it allows 'repeal and replace' to live to fight and legislate another day. That's not exactly a ringing endorsement, but it's something. When Monday arrives, will the press be discussing unclear, difficult next steps -- or combing through a humiliating post-mortem? Nobody seems to know the answer to that question just yet, including the people whose job it is to know such things.
Stay tuned!

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