Congressional Republicans' bid to repeal and replace Obamacare has been pulled from the House floor, marking a stunning setback for President Donald Trump and his allies in their first major legislative effort.
House Speaker Paul Ryan withdrew the American Health Care Act, a bill put forth by the House GOP to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, on Friday just ahead of a scheduled vote. The move came after days of consternation over the legislation, with conservative lawmakers arguing it didn't go far enough and moderates worrying it was too aggressive.
"We just pulled it," Trump told the Washington Post's Robert Costa as the news broke. "I don't blame Paul," he added, referring to Ryan.
In a press conference soon after the bill was pulled, Ryan said his party would need "time to reflect on this moment" and acknowledged that Obamacare will be the "law of the land" for the foreseeable future. He thanked the president, vice president, legislators and members of the administration for their work.
"We came up short," he said. "We are a 10-year opposition party where being against things was easy to do." Republicans have controlled the House of Representatives continually since 1995, except for the last two years of the George W. Bush administration (2007-2009) and the first two years of President Obama's (2009-2011), when the Affordable Care Act was passed.
"This is a good day for the American people," said House minority whip Steny Hoyer in a press conference with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
Ryan said the GOP would now move on to other agenda items, including securing the border, military buildup, infrastructure and reducing deficit spending. He also mentioned tax reform, which he said the failed health care vote would make "more difficult."
Trump speaking from the Oval Office said he will now "probably be going for tax reform." He blamed Democrats for the failed vote and said Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer would now "own" Obamacare, which he predicted would "explode."
"This is not anything but a Democrat health care," he said. "This is not our bill, this is their bill."
Members of Congress debated the bill on the House floor throughout much of the day on Friday, even as doubts loomed about whether the GOP had enough votes to back it. Just hours before the bill was pulled, Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the White House anticipated a vote during the afternoon.
"The president has been working the phones and having in-person meetings since the American Health Care Act was introduced. He's left everything on the field when it comes to this bill," he said.
CNN reported Trump asked for the bill to be pulled. Earlier in the day, Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney told CNBC the president was "done negotiating."
The New York Times' Maggie Haberman reported that the president told her that health care is now the Democrats' fault and that he anticipates when Obamacare "explodes" they will be ready to make a deal.
Democrats chanted, "Vote! Vote!" on the floor after the bill was rescinded.
Markets offered a mixed response to the news heading into the close on Friday. The S&P 500 popped into positive territory only to end the day down 0.09%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the day down 0.27%, while the Nasdaq added 0.19%. The dollar fell 0.04%.
Hospital stocks were trading at heavy volume after the news broke, but only Community Health Systems (CYH) - Get Report saw a discernible uptick after the announcement. The company's shares were up 2%, reaching $9.60 on the news. Community ended the day up 9.5% to $9.54.
As for drugmakers, shares of Pfizer (PFE) - Get Report closed 0.9% lower at $34, while Merck (MRK) - Get Report shares ended the trading session at $63.18, down 0.2%; and Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY) - Get Report were up 0.2% to $55.89.
-- Alicia McElhaney, Armie Margaret Lee and Bill McConnell contributed to this report.
-- Updated with comments from Ryan and Trump.