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Published: Thursday, March 23, 2017 @ 12:20 PM
After hours of negotiations that featured personal intervention by President Donald Trump, Republican leaders in the Congress were forced to back off a planned vote on a GOP health care bill, unable to find enough votes approve it and send it on to the Senate for further work.
While House leaders said votes were possible on Friday, there was no final agreement to vote on, as more conservative members of the House Freedom Caucus refused to get on board with a deal offered by the White House.
"We have not gotten enough of our members to get to yes," said Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), the chair of the Freedom Caucus.
"I am still a no at this time," Meadows told a crush of reporters. "I am desperately trying to get to yes."
Other Freedom Caucus members said very little as they exited a Congressional hearing room after a two hour meeting on the health bill, leaving Meadows to get out the message.
"No comment," said Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL). "Mark's got everything," referring to Meadows.
"You know I'm not going express the substance of anything that we talked about in there," said Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) said as reporters trailed him down the hall.
Earlier at the White House, there had been optimism after a meeting between Freedom Caucus members and the President.
But, there was no deal.
"Looks like the House has returned to "regular disorder," said Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY), who has been a strong opponent of the GOP health plan.
Some of the offerings to the Freedom Caucus included an effort to radically change or pull back on the "Essential Health Benefits" under the Obama health law, which Republicans argue have drastically increased prices and limited options for consumers.
Here is the list of "Essential Health Benefits" that are now in law:
But moving that way to please conservatives then caused problems for Republican moderates, as several of them announced opposition to the bill during the day on Thursday.
It was unclear if there was going to be a vote on Friday - nothing could be scheduled until leaders reach a deal.
Republicans had been excited about the symbolism of voting Thursday on their bill, because that would be exactly seven years since the Obama health reforms were signed into law.
Instead, the seven year anniversary featured more infighting among Republicans, who have long been united in their drive against Obamacare, but have not been able to arrive at a consensus on how best to design a new system on health insurance.