The Senate plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act fell apart earlier this week, with Senate leaders unable to corral enough votes from conservative and moderate Republicans to advance their bill.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) – who spent weeks trying to satisfy disparate voices in his own party to achieve a long-standing campaign promise to repeal Obamacare – acknowledged that he doesn’t have the votes to even start debate on the legislation. The bill McConnell drafted ultimately did not go far enough for many conservative Republicans who wanted Obamacare completely gutted, but went much too far for some moderate Republicans who were concerned about losing funding for Medicaid expansion.
Instead, McConnell said he will hold a vote next week on a bill to repeal the ACA without a replacement package, which will put senators on record but is seemingly destined to fail as well. This week, GOP Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Susan Collins (R-ME) said they will vote against the plan to repeal the ACA and give lawmakers a two-year window to determine a replacement strategy.
“We can’t just hope that we will pass a replacement within the next two years,” Collins said this week. “Repealing without a replacement would create great uncertainty for individuals who rely on the [ACA] and cause further turmoil in the insurance markets.”
McConnell and President Trump both seemed resigned that the repeal vote will fail. “This has been a very, very challenging experience for all of us,” McConnell said.
Trump excused congressional Republicans and his administration from any blame for failing to repeal President Obama’s signature legislative accomplishment. “I think we’re probably in that position where we’ll let Obamacare fail,” Trump said this week. “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.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said this week Republicans should abandon their “unworkable” bill and work with Democrats on a bipartisan solution.
“The door to bipartisanship is open now,” Schumer said. “Republicans only need to walk through it.”