WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG, AFP, NYTIMES) – US Republicans abandoned efforts to pass a broad Republican-only replacement of Obamacare, after two more party senators announced their opposition to the plan, drafted largely in secret.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said late Monday (July 17) he will instead seek a vote on a simple repeal – delayed by two years to give lawmakers time to seek a replacement. A repeal without a replacement is almost certain to fail.
The failure to deliver on seven years of GOP promises to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act would be the biggest failure for President Donald Trump and Republicans since their election victory.
In a statement McConnell acknowledged “regretfully” that his effort had failed. But he wasn’t giving up. “So, in the coming days, the Senate will vote to take up ... a repeal of Obamacare with a two-year delay to provide for a stable transition period,” he said, without setting a date.
“Inaction is not an option,” added a White House spokesperson, speaking on condition of anonymity. “We look forward to Congress continuing to work toward a bill the president can sign to end the Obamacare nightmare.”
McConnell’s move came after Senators Mike Lee of Utah and Jerry Moran of Kansas defected. Lee and Moran said in statements they won’t support the Republican measure because it doesn’t go far enough to address the rising cost of health care.
The two senators coordinated their statements on Monday night to have maximum impact. Already two other Republicans, Susan Collins of Maine, a moderate, and Rand Paul of Kentucky, a conservative, had declared their opposition to the latest version of the Senate repeal Bill, which was unveiled last week.
“There are serious problems with Obamacare, and my goal remains what it has been for a long time: to repeal and replace it,” Moran said in a statement.
“This closed-door process unfortunately has yielded the” Senate repeal Bill, which he asserted, “failed to repeal the Affordable Care Act or address health care’s rising costs.”
By jumping together, Moran and Lee ensured no one would be the definitive “no” vote.
The Senate Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer of New York, responded to the announcements by urging his Republican colleagues to begin anew and, this time, to undertake a bipartisan effort. “This second failure of Trumpcare is proof positive that the core of this Bill is unworkable,” Schumer said.
“Rather than repeating the same failed, partisan process yet again, Republicans should start from scratch and work with Democrats on a bill that lowers premiums, provides long term stability to the markets and improves our health care system.”