| WASHINGTON, March 23
WASHINGTON, March 23 U.S. President Donald Trump
may face his first major legislative hurdle on Thursday: a
do-or-die vote in the House of Representatives on a plan that
would roll back the signature healthcare law of former President
Trump has been billed by some lawmakers as "the closer" to
seal the deal on the replacement healthcare plan in a vote
Republican leaders hoped to hold on Thursday, but there were
signs late on Wednesday night that the deadline could be pushed
It was unclear whether Trump had convinced enough
Republicans to back the bill. That uncertainty has rattled
Failure to pass the legislation, called the American Health
Care Act, would cast doubt on Trump's ability to deliver other
parts of his agenda that need the cooperation of the
Republican-controlled Congress, including ambitious plans to
overhaul the tax code and invest in infrastructure.
Stocks on Tuesday posted their biggest one-day drop since
the Nov. 8 presidential election on concerns about the
The vote on the House floor had been initially expected by
around 7 pm (2300 GMT) on Thursday. But by midnight on
Wednesday, lawmakers had not yet settled on the timing of the
vote as conservative and moderate Republicans split on whether
there should be additional changes to the proposal.
House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions said the vote
could happen as early as Thursday or as late as Monday.
Democratic representatives are united against the bill,
which seeks to repeal and replace Obama's 2010 Affordable Care
Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan need strong support from
their side of the aisle on the bill, and can only afford to lose
21 Republican votes.
But conservative Republicans have complained about the
replacement for being too similar to Obamacare, and some
moderate Republicans are concerned it will hurt the health care
coverage of millions of voters.
An aide to the conservative House Freedom Caucus said at one
point on Wednesday that more than 25 of its members were opposed
to the plan. The chairman of the group, Representative Mark
Meadows, said negotiations late on Wednesday were making
Moderate Republicans huddled late into the evening in House
Speaker Paul Ryan's office. Afterwards, Representative Charlie
Dent issued a statement saying he could not back the bill.
Trump and fellow Republicans campaigned during last year's
elections on a promise to repeal and replace Obamacare, a
program that aimed to boost the number of Americans with health
insurance through mandates on individuals and employers, and
Republicans said Obamacare marked an excessive government
intrusion into the healthcare marketplace and blamed it for
pushing insurance premium costs higher.
Their replacement plan would rescind the taxes created by
Obamacare, repeal a penalty against people who do not buy
coverage, slash funding for the Medicaid program for the poor
and disabled, and modify tax subsidies that help individuals buy
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated 14
million people would lose medical coverage under the Republican
plan by next year. It also said that 24 million fewer people
would be insured by 2026.
Even if the legislation passes the House, its faces a second
hurdle in the Senate, where a number of Republicans have spoken
out against the House version.
Trump and Republican leaders have said they hope to have the
bill finalized in early April so Trump can sign it into law by
the middle of the month.
(Additional reporting by Susan Cornwell and Jeff Mason; Editing
by Bill Rigby and Michael Perry)