WASHINGTON (AP) – Opponents of the Republican drive to repeal “Obamacare” have dealt President Donald Trump and GOP lawmakers a huge blow, rejecting a measure to roll back parts of the Affordable Care Act.
Unable to pass even a so-called “skinny repeal,” it was unclear if Senate Republicans could advance any health bill despite seven years of promises to repeal Obama’s signature legislation.
At the end of a night of high suspense in the U.S. Capitol, Senate Majority Leader Mitch Connell said, “This is clearly a disappointing moment.” He also said after the early Friday vote: “I regret that our efforts were not enough, this time.”
McConnell said: “It’s time to move on.” He then put the health bill on hold and announced the Senate would take up other legislation next week.
The vote held early Friday morning was 49-51. Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine voted with Democrats to defeat the measure.
President Donald Trump expressed his disappointment via Twitter shortly after Friday morning’s vote.
3 Republicans and 48 Democrats let the American people down. As I said from the beginning, let ObamaCare implode, then deal. Watch!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 28, 2017
“I am disappointed with this setback on efforts to fix our broken health care system,” Republican Sen. Pat Toomey said in a statement early Friday morning. “For the hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians suffering from the higher costs and fewer choices caused by Obamacare’s collapse, Congress must not give up on repealing and replacing the failed health care law.”
The amendment was a last resort for Senate Republicans to pass something – anything – to trigger negotiations with the House. Some Republicans were concerned that the House would simply pass the pared-down bill and send it to Trump.
“The Senate Republican scheme was a terrible bill for the middle class and that’s why it was rejected on a bipartisan basis,” Democratic Sen. Bob Casey said in a statement early Friday morning. “It’s now time for Democrats and Republicans to work together on common sense solutions that will make our health care system more affordable and bring down costs for families. I commend Senator McCain for his courageous vote.”
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