The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday delayed a vote on legislation to begin dismantling Obamacare as President Donald Trump and leaders in Congress labored to find enough support among fellow Republicans for their version of a new federal healthcare policy, according to a senior House Republican aide.
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The delay marks a setback for Trump, who is seeking his first major legislative victory and who campaigned on a promise to repeal and replace President Barack Obama's landmark 2010 law, formally known as the Affordable Care Act.
Conservative Republicans objected to the bill because they thought it too similar to Obamacare while moderates thought it was too hard on their constituents.
The Republicans have a majority in the House but because of united Democratic opposition, can afford to lose only 21 Republican votes. As of Thursday morning, NBC News said that 30 Republicans were planning to vote "no" or leaning that way.
With this delay, House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan and his Republican leadership team will continue to search for ways to alter the legislation and bring it to a vote.
Even if it does get approval from the House, the legislation faces a potentially tough fight in the Republican-controlled Senate.
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The House and Senate had hoped to deliver a new healthcare bill to Trump by April 8, when Congress is scheduled to begin a two-week spring break.
The bill's proponents had wanted a House vote on Thursday as it is the seventh anniversary of Obama signing his healthcare law, which became a favored target of Republicans.
Obamacare set new controls on the health insurance industry and expanded coverage to millions who otherwise had not been able to afford medical care.
Republicans want to move to tax reform following the break if healthcare legislation is enacted.
Graphic on Obamacare and Republican healthcare bill (http://tmsnrt.rs/2n0ZMKf)
Graphic on shifting positions in the U.S. Senate on Republican healthcare bill (http://tmsnrt.rs/2mUE4Xf)
Graphic on poll on Americans' views of the Republican healthcare bill ( http://tmsnrt.rs/2n7f3e4)
(Additional reporting by Roberta Rampton, Susan Cornwell, Jeff Mason, Doina Chiacu, Steve Holland and Richard Cowan; Writing by Frances Kerry; Editing by Michael Perry, Bill Trott and Bill Rigby)