Republicans fail again on health care
Republican efforts to overhaul or repeal Obamacare collapsed in the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, dealing a sharp setback to President Donald Trump and the Republican Party’s seven-year quest to kill former President Barack Obama’s signature health care law.
The disarray in the Republican-controlled Senate rattled financial markets as it cast doubt on the chances of getting Trump’s other domestic policy priorities, such as tax reform, through a divided Congress.
Trump said he was disappointed by the failure and suggested he might let the insurance markets created under Obamacare go under and then try to work with Democrats on a rescue.
“We’re probably in that position where we’ll just let Obamacare fail,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “We will let Obamacare fail, and then the Democrats are going to come to us.”
U.S. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell had announced a vote on a straight repeal of Obamacare, which would take effect in two years after it became clear on Monday night that he did not have enough support to pass an overhaul of the health care law.
But the new approach unraveled within hours. Moderate Republican Senators Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska quickly announced they would not back repeal. With Democrats united in opposition, Republicans can only afford to lose two votes to pass the measure in the Senate, where they have a slim 52-48 majority.
“I do not think that it’s going to be constructive to repeal a law that at this point is so interwoven within our healthcare system and then hope that over the next two years we will come up with some kind of replacement,” Collins told reporters.
Obamacare has boosted the number of Americans with health insurance through mandates on individuals and employers, and income-based subsidies. About 20 million Americans gained insurance coverage through the law.
Republican senators debated over lunch on Tuesday whether to go ahead with the repeal vote, which McConnell said afterward would occur “in the very near future.”