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Northwest Lawmakers React To Health Care Bill Withdrawal

Just minutes before a scheduled vote before Congress, Republican leaders withdrew their health care bill intended to replace the Affordable Care Act.

By Friday morning, it was clear the measure did not have enough votes to pass.

The withdrawal of the American Health Care Act is a defeat for President Trump, who pressured House Republicans to get the bill to a vote by Friday.

Oregon Rep. Greg Walden, the state's only Republican in Congrees, was instrumental in crafting the bill. While it's not yet clear how he and other GOP leaders plan to proceed on health care legislation, Walden said in a video statement that he is "fully committed" to addressing the issues within the health care system.

"We all know there are problems in the health care system. We put forward a plan trying to address those (problems)," Walden said. "I've been an advocate for health care reform, for improvement, for fixing the problems we have ... and I am going to continue that work."

Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon, reacted to the withdrawal of the bill by encouraging Republicans to move on.

“Following today’s TrumpCare failure, it’s time for Republicans to cease and desist in their plans to destroy American health care," he said. "Rather than continuing to try to twist arms to pass a plan that will raise costs, lower coverage, and take health care away from 24 million Americans, they should drop this destructive strategy."

In an email to constituents and on Twitter, Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Portland, cheered the bill's failure.

"We did it," wrote Blumenauer. "Resistance works, and we've derailed the destruction of the Affordable Care Act, at least for now. Let's keep it up."

Washington state's Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee called Friday's events "an enormous victory for Washington."

“This victory didn’t happen by chance," Inslee said in a statement. "Thousands of Washingtonians made their voices heard at town halls and in phone calls and emails to Congress. The Republican plan to take away health from millions Americans and give tax breaks to millionaires was unacceptable."

Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden also credited constituents for making their voices heard.

In a tweet sent shortly after the bill's withdrawal, he wrote: "24 million working Americans & 110 million seniors & low-income Americans can breathe easier for now. Your voices are making the difference."

Copyright 2017 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Amanda Peacher