Republican bid to gut Obamacare fails, again
The seven-year Republican quest to kill Obamacare, a major campaign vow by President Donald Trump, lay in ruins on Friday after the Senate failed to dismantle the health care law, with congressional leaders now planning to move on to other matters.
John McCain, the maverick 80-year-old senator, and 2008 Republican presidential nominee cast the deciding vote in the dramatic early-morning showdown on the Senate floor as a bill to repeal key elements of Obamacare was defeated, 51-49.
McCain, who flew back from Arizona this week after being diagnosed with aggressive brain cancer, joined fellow Republicans Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski in voting with Senate Democrats who were unified against the legislation.
“It’s time to move on,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whose reputation as a master strategist was diminished, said on the Senate floor after the vote that unfolded at roughly 1:30 a.m. (0530 GMT).
While House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan said his fellow Republicans should not give up trying on health care, he pointed to other pressing issues that needed attention, including major tax-cut legislation sought by Trump.
“We have so much work still to do, and the House will continue to focus on issues that are important to the American people. At the top of that list is cutting taxes for middle-class families and fixing our broken tax code,” Ryan said in a statement.
The Senate’s healthcare failure called into question the Republican Party’s basic ability to govern even as it controls the White House, Senate and House of Representatives.
Trump has not had a major legislative victory after more than six months in office. He had promised to get major health care legislation, tax cuts and a boost in infrastructure spending through Congress in short order.
Also on the legislative agenda are spending bills for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1 to avoid a government shutdown and raising the U.S. debt limit.
While Ryan was able to secure House passage of a comprehensive bill to gut Obamacare in May, McConnell earlier in the week was unable to win passage of similarly broad health care legislation amid intraparty squabbling and competing demands by hard-line conservatives and moderates. In the middle-of-the-night vote, he failed to get even a stripped-down, so-called skinny bill over the finish line.