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No Obamacare Repeal Likely Before Donald Trump's 100th Day

The renewed momentum for a GOP plan to repeal and replace Obamacare is now threatening to complicate efforts to avoid a government shutdown.
Image: Speaker Paul Ryan Holds Weekly Press Briefing At The Capitol
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI)Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

President Donald Trump looks likely to pass his 100th day in office without successfully repealing Obamacare, but lawmakers appeared to have avoided a government shutdown for at least another week.

Following a flurry activity on a compromise to a GOP bill shelved last month for lack of support, Republican House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said late Thursday that there wouldn't be a vote on health care this week.

The announcement came after Democrats threatened to oppose even a one-week extension to keep the government's lights on if GOP lawmakers tried to push health care through on Friday or Saturday, which is Trump's 100th day.

Trump and GOP House members have been eager to pass a bill on one of their major campaign promises but objections from moderate members on some of the compromise measures and the pressing need to pass a short-term funding bill to keep the government operating past Friday's midnight deadline made a vote untenable.

GOP leaders have insisted that while progress is being made on the health care bill, they will not bring it up for a vote until they are sure it has enough GOP support to pass in the face of solid Democratic opposition.

The House vote on the funding measure is also shaping up to be a largely partisan vote, further stoking tensions between the two parties that is likely to pour into next week when the next deadline approaches to keep the government's lights on. That House vote is expected sometime Friday.

Senate Republicans tried to pass the extension without a roll call vote Thursday evening but Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer objected because he wants a deal on the larger funding bill before he agrees to the extension. Schumer's demand puts more pressure on negotiators to wrap up talks before the Senate tries again on Friday.

Leaders of both parties entered the week optimistic about a deal to fund the government through the rest of this fiscal year. The Trump administration dropped its insistence on the inclusion of a down-payment to fund a border wall and its opposition to continuing an Obamacare subsidy, moves seen as helping to smooth the process. But the renewed possibility of a health care vote slowed down the momentum and became a rallying cry for Democrats.

"If Republicans announce their intention to bring their harmful TrumpCare bill to the House Floor tomorrow or Saturday, I will oppose a one-week continuing resolution and will advise House Democrats to oppose it as well," Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, who is responsible for corralling his party's votes, said earlier Thursday before McCarthy confirmed there would be no vote.

Republicans, however, had dismissed Democratic concerns.

"I’d be kinda shocked if the Democrats would want to create a government shutdown because they have been dragging their feet," House Speaker Paul Ryan said of the government funding talks. "I’m confident we’ll be able to pass a short-term extension."

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi indicated at a news conference Thursday morning that Republicans were going to have to pass a one-week extension without votes from her caucus.

"Some of my members do not want any CR," she said, referring to the extension. "They think there has been plenty of time" for negotiations.

Trump, growing impatient with the slow and dramatic mechanics of Congress as his 100th day in office approaches, lobbed seven tweets Thursday morning blaming Democrats for the absence of a government funding deal.

He touched on a series of issues that are still holding up a deal, including funding for Puerto Rico and health insurance for coal miners.

Trump backed down from two of his demands this week — money for a border wall and withholding subsidies to help lower-income people — to avert a government shutdown.

Meanwhile, House Republicans leaders are working to assess the number of votes they have for their updated health care bill after a core group of conservative members of the House agreed to support the measure.