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The White House still expects a critical first vote in Congress later on Thursday on legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said during his daily briefing Thursday afternoon that President Donald Trump is “looking forward to seeing Republicans fulfill the pledge tonight” to enact legislation that would take aim at Barack Obama’s signature legislative accomplishment.

When pressed on the timing, Mr Spicer said the Thursday evening vote is what the House of Representatives had scheduled, and that “nothing leads me to believe” it would be delayed. House Republican leadership will ultimately control the timing, he added.

Mr Trump met earlier Thursday with the House Freedom Caucus, the arch-conservative group whose votes are seen as critical to passing the bill. Following the meeting, the White House said in a statement that the meeting had been “a positive step”, although Politico reported that no deal had been reached.

Markets have been closely watching the timing of the vote, which could signal whether the White House and Republicans in the House of Representatives believe they have enough votes to move ahead with the bill, or whether they will push it back in order to drum up support and ensure passage. Doubts have grown as the deadline nears, with some Republicans distancing themselves from the legislation even as the White House and House leadership scramble to shore up the needed votes.

When asked about whether there are enough votes to pass the bill, Mr Spicer said: “We continue to see the number go up and not down”.

If the healthcare vote fails, it could cast doubt on Mr Trump’s ability to enact other key policies markets have been eagerly awaiting, such as tax reform and infrastructure spending.

Paul Ryan, who leads House Republicans, is scheduled to give a press briefing at 3:30 ET this afternoon.

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