WASHINGTON — The White House said a House floor vote on the GOP health care bill was postponed simply for scheduling reasons on Thursday and officials remain “confident” it will pass. Shortly after news of the delay broke, White House principal deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters the vote was put off to avoid holding it in the wee hours of Friday morning.
“We are going to start the debate tonight on the vote as planned,” Sanders said. “Most likely due to the length of the debate, we will move the vote to tomorrow morning so that we do not end up voting at 3 o’clock in the morning.”
Sanders’ comments contrasted with statements from top GOP aides and officials on Capitol Hill who said they were unsure a vote would take place tomorrow. One House Republican leadership aide told Yahoo News they “don’t know when it’ll happen.” In an interview with CNN’s Dana Bash, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Republicans “hope” the vote will take place on Friday but are not sure. He indicated representatives will “start the debate” tomorrow morning.
The bill has faced opposition from both Democrats and conservative Republicans. President Trump has personally lobbied for the bill, and he met with reluctant members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus at the White House on Thursday morning. Shortly before the delay was announced, White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters in his daily briefing that the vote would absolutely begin Thursday night as scheduled.
Sanders said Republicans knew the debate on the bill would “go on” a long while and didn’t want to have the vote take place late at night “out of respect for Congress.” A reporter pressed her on whether the delay is “just a scheduling/sleep/convenience thing” or “a concern that there’s not enough votes” to pass the bill. Sanders joked that the White House simply doesn’t want reporters to lose sleep.