“Trumpcare” might be dead, but that isn’t going to stop Republicans from trying to kill Obamacare along with it — and if they fail, President Trump has warned, they’ll look like “dopes.”
Having suffered the ignominy of seeing his revised healthcare legislation shot down by senators from his own party, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced late Monday night that instead of trying to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, the Republicans would now seek to simply repeal it — and work on figuring out a replacement later.
“Regretfully, it’s now apparent that the effort to repeal and immediately replace the failure of Obamacare will not be successful,” McConnell said in a statement.
McConnell plans to hold a Senate vote in the coming days, to repeal Obamacare with a two-year delay to “provide for a stable transition period to a patient-centered healthcare system that gives Americans access to quality, affordable care.”
This is the same order that was supported by the Senate in 2015, only to be vetoed by then-President Barack Obama. At the time the Senate voted 52-47 in favor of a repeal, but Republicans — especially moderates — voted knowing it couldn’t pass, given Obama’s veto power. A similar vote today would mean the end of Obamacare, given President Donald Trump’s support for this course of action:
Politico reports that at a dinner with GOP senators Monday evening, Trump said the party would look like “dopes” if they couldn’t pass a repeal-only bill after doing so in 2015. “If the Republicans have the House, Senate, and the presidency and they can’t pass this healthcare bill, they are going to look weak,” Trump said, according to sources at the meeting. “How can we not do this after promising it for years?”
Despite this, most Capitol Hill watchers say the repeal-only vote is unlikely to pass, meaning that healthcare legislation will be shelved for now, as Republicans look to move on to tax reform, where they believe they are more likely to see success.
The decision to not immediately replace Obamacare could cause chaos in insurance markets – already international markets have reacted negatively to the news, with the dollar dropping to its lowest level since September 2016 on Tuesday.
McConnell’s call for a repeal-only vote came after two more GOP senators joined Sens. Susan Collins and Rand Paul in publicly declaring they would vote “no” if the replacement bill came before the Senate.
With a pair of perfectly coordinated tweets on Monday evening, Sens. Mike Lee and Jerry Moran announced their decision, citing insufficient tax and regulation rollbacks. The coordinated announcement meant that neither could be blamed entirely for the bill failing.
A Republican campaign promise for many years, replacing Obamacare was a central tenet of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign — and the crushing defeat of the bill before it even came to a vote will be an embarrassment to the administration, which has failed to get much of its proposed legislation past Congress.
Trump repeatedly said he was in support of having a replacement bill ready to go at the same time as repealing Obamacare, but given the circumstances, he chose to back McConnell’s call for a repeal-only vote. The decision was further backed up by vp Mike Pence, who tweeted: “Inaction is not an option.”
Rand Paul immediately tweeted that “clean repeal” was what was needed, suggesting he would vote in favor of McConnell’s latest proposal. Collins, Lee, and Moran are yet to comment on the proposal.