US President Donald Trump faces one of the most consequential days of his young administration with a crucial vote on a White House-backed healthcare bill that is opposed by many conservative Republicans.
The high-wire Thursday evening vote comes amid unrelenting pressure on Trump for his perceived softness for or closeness towards Russia, including financial ties linking some for his former aides and close supporters to Moscow.
The Russian roulette- unrelated to the healthcare vote- is nowhere near settling, but the Obamacare bullet has left the chamber and there is no knowing where it is going to hit.
Trump needs to win the vote to not only fulfill a key campaign promise to repeal Obamacare, but also show that he is in full control of the party and can carry through many campaign pledges that need to be legislated. An early revolt by party conservatives to defeat a Trump-backed legislation (dubbed Ryancare after House Speaker Paul Ryan) will shake his presidency.
As of Thursday morning, Trump was still short of the required majority in the House despite threatening some defiant Republican lawmakers that they would lose their re-election in the 2018 mid-term polls (the House goes to polls every two years) if they shafted the leadership-sponsored RyanCare bill. The party's conservative wing, operating under the rubric "House Freedom Caucus," is pressing for repealing some of Trump-backed Ryancare act's insurance mandates to truly lower premiums.