Donald Trump’s hopes of decimating predecessor Barack Obama’s signature Affordable Care Act were seemingly dashed after two Republican senators defected from the party line Monday.
The joint announcement made by Mike Lee of Utah and Jerry Moran of Kansas places conservatives two votes under the threshold needed to begin debate on a proposed repeal and replacement of Obamacare.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took the announcement in stride, conceding in a statement Monday night that a healthcare overhaul isn’t likely to happen any time in the near future.
“The effort to repeal and immediately replace the failure of Obamacare will not be successful,” lamented McConnell.
President Trump didn’t seem to share the Senate Majority Leader’s cynicism, taking to Twitter to post a series of bizarre statements.
“Republicans should just REPEAL failing ObamaCare now & work on a new Republican Plan that will start from a clean slate. Dems will join in!” wrote the president over social media, without explaining why or how liberals might be goaded into dragging down the Affordable Care Act.
For his part, Senator Moran said the Republican proposal “fails to repeal the Affordable Care Act or address health care’s rising costs.”
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
Lee’s statement was similar, reading, “In addition to not repealing all of the Obamacare taxes, it doesn’t go far enough in lowering premiums for middle-class families; nor does it create enough free space from the most costly Obamacare regulations.”
The New York Times observed that the double-defection ensured that no single Republican senator would be responsible for eradicating the party’s opportunity to repeal Obamacare.
Several other senators had been vocal opponents of the repeal-and-replace effort, including Rand Paul of Kentucky and Susan Collins of Maine.
Conservatives had hoped that the passage of a House repeal and replacement of Obamacare would set the Senate up for a Republican victory.
Unfortunately, as mentioned by the New York Times, the gulf between moderate Republicans and those further to the right was too wide to ford.
While politicians like Rand felt that the Senate’s proposal didn’t go far enough in pulling the carpet out from under Obamacare’s figurative feet, others, like Collins and Lee, were worried about the impact such legislation could have on their constituents.
Collins in particular had been worried about the ramifications of the bill, as spelled out by the Congressional Budget Office – she joined the “no” camp over Twitter, saying the Senate’s efforts at Obamacare reform wouldn’t do away with the problems rural Mainers face.
Despite the opposition from Democrats and a handful of Republicans, Trump remained defiant at a White House press conference.
“It’ll be a lot easier,” Trump said, referring to future efforts to appeal Obamacare. “We’re not going to own it. I’m not going to own it. I can tell you the Republicans are not going to own it. We’ll let Obamacare fail, and then the Democrats are going to come to us.”