The Capitol is seen at dawn, Friday, March, 17, 2017, in Washington. 
J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo

House Republicans cancel vote on controversial health care bill

Updated
There was a House Republican conference meeting scheduled for this morning, but it was postponed. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) was scheduled to host a press conference this afternoon, but it too was scrapped.

And the House was supposed to vote today on the Republicans’ wildly unpopular health care plan, but it met a familiar fate.
House Republican leaders abruptly canceled a planned vote on the GOP health care bill Thursday afternoon as they struggled to find sufficient support to pass it. […]

The move came after House conservatives said there was no deal struck on the bill following a meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House Thursday.
Right around the time House GOP leaders canceled today’s vote, Trump told a group, “Today, the House is voting to repeal and replace the disaster known as Obamacare.”

Apparently, the merits of the Affordable Care Act aren’t the only things the president is unaware of.

In case this isn’t already obvious, these are deeply embarrassing developments for Republican leaders. As recently as yesterday afternoon, GOP officials were declaring, with great bravado, “We’re voting tomorrow, no matter what.” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told NBC News’ Kasie Hunt that members would not only cast their votes on the American Health Care Act by 7 p.m. (ET), but also that the votes would be there to pass it.

And yet, here we are.

This is not to say the Republican bill is dead, or that those Americans who’d be punished by the legislation should yet breathe easy. There are multiple reports that the House may begin the floor debate tonight and possibly hold a vote as early as tomorrow morning. No vote has been scheduled, at least not as of this minute, but today’s cancellation may prove to be a brief reprieve.

There are a series of negotiations that remain underway, with GOP leaders and the White House hoping to cobble together the votes they need. The votes aren’t there now – an NBC News count puts the total number of Republican “no” votes at 30, eight more than is needed to kill the bill – but plenty of arm-twisting and horse-trading can happen between now and tomorrow.

In other words, health care advocates have reason to be pleased with today’s announcement – and Republican leaders have reason to be embarrassed – but the GOP bill isn’t dead yet.

Postscript: One of the reasons Republicans were determined to hold the vote today was symbolic: the Affordable Care Act became law exactly seven years ago today, and GOP leaders thought it would be cool to mark the anniversary in a regressive way. My advice would be for congressional Republicans to pause, learn a little more about health care, hold a hearing or two, maybe talk to a few experts, and aim for another vote on March 23, 2018.

Affordable Care Act, Donald Trump, Health Care, House Republicans and Obamacare

House Republicans cancel vote on controversial health care bill

Updated