House Speaker Paul Ryan withdrew the bill to replace the Affordable Care Act from the floor March 24 as Republican dissent swelled.
The move came just minutes before the U.S. House of Representatives was set to vote on the American Health Care Act. GOP leadership in the House frantically tried to muster the votes to save the bill during floor discussion despite a growing number of defections from moderates and ultra-conservatives.
“This is a disappointing day for us. Doing big things is hard," Ryan said during a news conference. "All of us, myself included, will need time to reflect on how we got to this moment, what we could have done to make it better.”
Ryan visited President Donald Trump at the White House on March 24 before returning to the House floor for debate on the bill, telling the president they did not have the 216 votes necessary to pass the legislation. Trump issued an ultimatum on March 23, telling the GOP they needed to pass the AHCA or Obamacare would live on.
Ryan acknowledged that Republicans would be moving forward with other parts of their agenda including tax reform and strengthening the border.
“I don't know what else to say other than Obamacare is the law of the land. It will remain the law of the land until it's replaced," Ryan said. “We're going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future.”
GOP leaders could face a crisis soon when jittery insurers must announce whether they'll sell plans for 2018 and how they'll price them. Ryan said his big concern is that the ACA insurance market could collapse, with exiting insurers and soaring premiums. “We'll try to prop it up but it's so fundamentally flawed that I don't know if it's possible.”