Updated 10:30 a.m. Tuesday
After seven years of promising to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Republican efforts at passing a health care bill on their own may have ended Monday night as the bill working its way through the Senate was effectively blocked. Two more GOP senators -- Mike Lee of Utah and Jerry Moran of Kansas -- came out in opposition to the bill, which means it cannot get enough support to pass.
— Jerry Moran (@JerryMoran) July 18, 2017
Shortly afterward, President Trump wrote, "Republicans should just REPEAL failing ObamaCare now & work on a new Healthcare Plan that will start from a clean slate. Dems will join in!"
Republicans should just REPEAL failing ObamaCare now & work on a new Healthcare Plan that will start from a clean slate. Dems will join in!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 18, 2017
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell put out a statement promising to do just that, pointing to a 2015 bill passed by Congress and vetoed by President Barack Obama. It would repeal the ACA with a two-year delay, giving a fixed deadline for Congress to replace the law. McConnell would still need 50 votes to bring that to the floor.
McConnell has previously said turning to Democrats to come up with fixes for the current health care system is his next step, and several senators who criticized the crafting of the current bill in private have called for such a bipartisan process.
One such senator is John McCain, R-Ariz., who was kept from returning to Washington this week due to unexpected surgery for a blood clot, requiring GOP leaders to delay their push for the overhaul bill. In a statement late Monday, McCain said, "The Congress must now return to regular order, hold hearings, receive input from members of both parties, and heed the recommendations of our nation's governors so that we can produce a bill that finally provides Americans with access to quality and affordable health care."
McCain has been among the more moderate Republicans who have joined several GOP governors in opposing the Republican health care bill's proposed cuts to Medicaid. The bill would have represented a generational restructuring of the entitlement program. The Congressional Budget Office has not yet given its estimates on the impact of the latest Senate bill, but estimates on an earlier version showed the reductions in Medicaid coverage would have meant 15 million fewer Americans would have coverage under the program in 10 years.
In addition to paralyzing the GOP on its top political pledge for the better part of a decade, stalling on the health care bill could tie up the rest of the party's agenda, including efforts at major tax reform. The health care bill has dominated work on Capitol Hill for the first six months of Trump's term, typically the most potent period for an administration to move legislation, which is also the first period in a decade when the GOP has controlled both chambers of Congress and the White House.
On Tuesday Trump said he was deeply "disappointed" by the collapse of the GOP effort to rewrite Obama's health care law.
Trump told reporters during a lunch with service members that Republicans have been talking for years about repealing and replacing "Obamacare," and is disappointed they couldn't deliver. He said it's time to "Let Obamacare fail," and says that "I'm not going to own it."
Trump said letting Obamacare fail will encourage Democrats to come to the table and negotiate. He also says he does not blame Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for the decision by two more Republican senators to come out against the legislation, effectively killing the bill.