No healthcare vote this week; stumbling block in government shutdown

By Allen Cone and Ed Adamczyk  |  Updated April 27, 2017 at 11:45 PM
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April 27 (UPI) -- The House of Representatives won't vote on healthcare this week, possibly averting a U.S. government shutdown over a short-term spending bill, the Republicans' majority leader said late Thursday.

"We are not voting on healthcare this week," House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California told reporters.

Democrats had threatened to block the funding bill if the Republicans attempted to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.

The funding bill must be passed by midnight Friday to keep federal agencies open through May 5.

On Thursday, Republicans received more backers of a new healthcare bill but ultimately decided against bringing it to the floor this week.

"We've been educating people on healthcare," McCarthy said to reporters. "It's not tomorrow. I never said it was going to be tomorrow. ... We are not voting on healthcare tomorrow."

When asked about Saturday, he said, "No. We never put it out there."

President Donald Trump had hopes for a healthcare reform package to be approved before Saturday, his 100th day in office.

Republican House huddled for almost two hours in a late-night meeting in House Speaker Paul Ryan's office.

Ryan earlier said Thursday during a news conference he was "confident" of a spending bill passage because he "would be shocked that they'd [Democrats] want to see a government shutdown."

The Senate also must pass the bill and send it on Trump for signing.

If a spending bill doesn't pass at the end of the fiscal year, it would delay tax refunds, temporarily lay off thousands of federal workers, close national parks and otherwise slow the government.

Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., announced the stopgap measure, designed to fund the government for one week and allow time for members of Congress to finish the details of a finalized bill.

"This continuing resolution will continue to keep the government open and operating as normal for the next several days, in order to finalize legislation to fund the federal government for the rest of the fiscal year. I am optimistic that a final funding package will be completed soon," Frelinghuysen said in a statement Wednesday.

But Rep Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said Thursday that Democrats in Congress would fight the short-term bill if Republicans insist on expediting the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Republicans shepherding the bill through Congress will need Democratic votes; conservative Republicans, who historically oppose government funding bills, are likely to vote against the bill.

"If Republicans announce their intention to bring the harmful TrumpCare bill to the House floor tomorrow, I will oppose a one-week continuing resolution and will advise house Democrats to oppose it as well," Hoyer said.

President Donald Trump sent six Twitter messages in a two-minute span on Thursday morning, slamming the Democrats. He cited defense, miners' access to healthcare and the potential closure of national parks as reasons the short-term budget legislation should be accepted.

"I promise to rebuild our military and secure our border. Democrats want to shut down the government. Politics!" read one.

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