GOP finger-pointing clouds path for Trump agenda

"I think we have to do some soul-searching internally to determine whether or not we are even capable as a governing body", said Rep. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, in the bitter aftermath of the health care debacle. Ultimately, Ryan scrapped the vote late Friday.

"I like Speaker Ryan". "In fact, he thought Paul Ryan worked really hard".

Afterwards, the White House said it hopes this will clear the way for other parts of Trump's agenda, especially tax reform.

But Republicans had few firm commitments from conservatives and watched a continued exodus of moderates.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who as speaker was Obama's crucial lieutenant in passing the Democratic bill in the first place, couldn't resist a dig at the GOP disarray.

But tax reform will be no simpler. "He's a dealmaker. He knows how to do deals and there's no deal here", said Ed Cox, chairman of NY state's Republican party, who has known Trump for decades, sometimes as friend, sometimes as foe.

"It's fairly unbelievable that even after meeting with President Trump, they are holding out for removing health care from people with pre-existing conditions, something they know could never pass and goes against everything president Trump promised during the campaign", one GOP aide familiar with the whip operation told CNN Thursday as it was growing increasingly clear that the Freedom Caucus wasn't budging enough to make up the difference. While they know the Freedom Caucus may be the biggest reason the healthcare bill failed, they weren't the only ones against it. He hastened to add that "they will come to us; we won't have to come to them" because it will happen "after ObamaCare explodes" over the coming months.

A congressional source familiar with the meeting identified Rep. Ted Poe from Texas as the only member of the Freedom Caucus who stood up to support the bill.

"I suspect some became a no because of that", Lance said.

"I got the sense that he had delegated a lot of the specifics to White House personnel and/or Paul Ryan and/or house leadership, and he was going to support whatever they came up with regardless of good or bad, as long as it was some kind of repeal and replacement", said the caucus member, who asked not to be quoted by name in order to talk freely about the private meeting. "That certainly didn't help".

On the other side of the GOP spectrum, moderate Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa., corroborated a New York Times report that Trump told him he was destroying the party by opposing the Republican bill. Instead of the Obamacare subsidies that are tied to income and premiums, the GOP plan provides Americans with refundable tax credits based mainly on age to purchase health insurance. The bill would have ended Obama's Medicaid expansion and trimmed future federal financing for the federal-state program, letting states impose work requirements on some of the 70 million beneficiaries.

As he ponders his next steps, Trump faces decisions on whether to back administrative changes to fix Obama's health care law or undermine it as prices for insurance plans rise in many markets. The legislation's provision to repeal essential health benefits such as maternity care and emergency services was created to appeal to hard-line conservatives who don't think the government should be in the health care business.

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