Determined House Republicans won early victories Thursday on divisive legislation to undo former President Barack Obama's health care law, winning approval in key committees after marathon all-night sessions despite Democratic protests and intense opposition from doctors and consumer groups. The GOP scored triumphs in the Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce panels after lengthy debate, as the committees approved legislation to reshape the way millions of Americans pay for medical care, including abolishing the tax penalty Obama's statute imposes on people who don't purchase insurance. There was 18 hours of debate and a pre-dawn vote in the Ways and Means Committee, while lawmakers on the Energy and Commerce Committee struggled for nearly 28 hours.
As his committees wrapped up work on the legislation favored by President Donald Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan tried to close the deal with his party divided and some conservative in open revolt. "This is the closest we will ever get to repealing and replacing Obamacare," Ryan declared at a press briefing where he appeared in shirt sleeves to walk reporters through a detailed presentation on the GOP legislation. "The time is here. The time is now. This is the moment. And this is the closest this will ever happen." House leaders hope to send the bill to the Senate in time for final passage by early April, the AP reports. (Read more ObamaCare stories.)