WASHINGTON – A vote on US President Donald Trump’s healthcare bill has been withdrawn at the last minute after it failed to gain enough support to pass in Congress.
House Speaker Paul Ryan said he and Trump agreed to pull the vote, after it became apparent it would not get the minimum of 215 Republican votes needed.
The withdrawal is seen as a huge blow to Trump.
Repealing and replacing the programme known as Obamacare was one of his major election pledges.
Earlier on Friday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said that the vote would go ahead at 3:30 p.m.
Trump had reportedly warned Republicans that if they did not vote for his bill then they would be stuck with Barack Obama’s healthcare programme for good.
However, multiple reports suggested that between 28 and 35 Republicans were opposed to his draft American Health Care Act.
The vote was withdrawn shortly after 15:30, and the House is now in recess.
Republicans currently have a majority in both the House and the Senate.
However, some Republicans were unhappy that the bill cut health coverage too severely, while others felt the changes did not go far enough.
Trump blamed the Democrats for not supporting the bill and predicted that Obamacare would “explode”.
He said the Republicans would probably focus on tax reform for now.
“We have to let Obamacare go its own way for a little while,” he said, predicting that the Democrats would “reach out when they’re ready”.
Earlier, Ryan told reporters: “We came really close today, but we came up short.”
“I will not sugar coat this. This is a disappointing day for us. Doing big things is hard.
“We are going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future,” he added – but vowed that it was “not the end of the story”.
Meanwhile, Democrat and House minority leader Nancy Pelosi described it as “a victory for the American people”.