Trump, Republican leaders pull Obamacare repeal bill

President Trump’s health care bill, which appeared set for stunning defeat, was withdrawn minutes before the vote was to occur


WASHINGTON—In a humiliating failure, President Donald Trump and GOP leaders yanked their bill to repeal “Obamacare” off the House floor Friday when it became clear it would fail badly—after seven years of nonstop railing against the health care law.

Democrats said Americans can “breathe a sigh of relief.” Trump said Obama’s law was imploding “and soon will explode.”

Thwarted by two factions of fellow Republicans, from the centre and far right, House Speaker Paul Ryan said President Barack Obama’s health care law, the GOP’s No. 1 target in the new Trump administration, will remain in place “for the foreseeable future.”

It was a stunning defeat for the new president after he had demanded House Republicans delay no longer and vote on the legislation Friday, pass or fail.

His gamble failed. Instead Trump, who campaigned as a master deal-maker and claimed that he alone could fix the nation’s health care system, saw his ultimatum rejected by Republican lawmakers who made clear they answer to their own voters, not to the president.

He had “never said repeal and replace it in 64 days,” a dejected but still combative Trump said at the White House, though he had repeatedly shouted during the presidential campaign that it was going down “immediately.”

The bill was withdrawn just minutes before the House vote was to occur, and lawmaker said there were no plans to revisit the issue. Republicans will try to move ahead on other agenda items, including overhauling the tax code, though the failure on the health bill can only make whatever comes next immeasurably harder.

Trump pinned the blame on Democrats.

“With no Democrat support we couldn’t quite get there,” he told reporters in the Oval Office. “We learned about loyalty, we learned a lot about the vote-getting process.”

The Obama law was approved in 2010 with no Republican votes.

Despite reports of backbiting from administration officials toward Ryan, Trump said: “I like Speaker Ryan. … I think Paul really worked hard.”

For his part, Ryan told reporters: “We came really close today but we came up short. … This is a disappointing day for us.” He said the president has “really been fantastic.”

But when asked how Republicans could face voters after their failure to make good on years of promises, Ryan quietly said: “It’s a really good question. I wish I had a better answer for you.”

MORE: How long can Trump’s love affair with Republican voters last?

Last fall, Republicans used the issue to gain and keep control of the White House, Senate and House. During the previous years, they had cast dozens of votes to repeal Obama’s law in full or in part, but when they finally got the chance to pass a repeal version that actually had a chance to become law, they couldn’t deliver.

Democrats could hardly contain their satisfaction.

“Today is a great day for our country, what happened on the floor is a victory for the American people,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who as speaker herself helped Obama pass the Affordable Care Act in the first place. “Let’s just for a moment breathe a sigh of relief for the American people.”

The outcome leaves both Ryan and Trump weakened politically.

For the president, this piles a big early congressional defeat onto the continuing inquiries into his presidential campaign’s Russia connections and his unfounded wiretapping allegations against Obama.

Ryan was not able to corral the House Freedom Caucus, the restive band of conservatives that ousted the previous speaker. Those Republicans wanted the bill to go much further, while some GOP moderates felt it went too far.

Instead of picking up support as Friday wore on, the bill went the other direction, with several key lawmakers coming out in opposition. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen of New Jersey, chairman of a major committee, Appropriations, said the bill would raise costs unacceptably on his constituents.

The defections raised the possibility that the bill would not only lose on the floor, but lose big.

The GOP bill would have eliminated the Obama statute’s unpopular fines on people who do not obtain coverage and would also have removed the often-generous subsidies for those who purchase insurance.

Republican tax credits would have been based on age, not income like Obama’s, and the tax boosts Obama imposed on higher-earning people and health care companies would have been repealed. The bill would have ended Obama’s Medicaid expansion and trimmed future federal financing for the federal-state program, letting states impose work requirements on some of the 70 million beneficiaries.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said the Republican bill would have resulted in 24 million additional uninsured people in a decade and lead to higher out-of-pocket medical costs for many lower-income and people just shy of age 65 when they would become eligible for Medicare. The bill would have blocked federal payments for a year to Planned Parenthood.

Republicans had never built a constituency for the legislation, and in the end the nearly uniform opposition from hospitals, doctors, nurses, the AARP, consumer groups and others weighed heavily with many members. On the other side, conservative groups including the Koch outfit argued the legislation did not go far enough in uprooting Obamacare.

Ryan made his announcement to lawmakers at a very brief meeting, where he was greeted by a standing ovation in recognition of the support he still enjoys from many lawmakers.

When the gathering broke up, Rep. Greg Walden of Oregon, chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee that helped write the bill, told reporters: “We gave it our best shot. That’s it. It’s done. D-O-N-E done. This bill is dead.”


Trump, Republican leaders pull Obamacare repeal bill

  1. Google OECD healthcare country rankings. Control/cut healthcare costs and premiums/deductibles will decline. Congress is tackling this healthcare system debacle backwards. Single payer / universal healthcare offered by other developed countries, set pre-determined prices the government will pay for all medical procedures, hospital and lab fees, and drug prices. FREE MARKET, FOR-PROFIT markets DO NOT WORK for healthcare.

    • Absolutely right. Free markets don’t work properly for healthcare because consumers do not have the normal range of choices regarding their health that would be necessary for free markets to operate in balance to provide a maximum mix of quality and quantity. When free markets are allowed to operate in the healthcare field you get the equivalent of oligopoly pricing, which is illustrated by the American market with the highest healthcare costs in the world, and the highest quality, providing you can pay for it, which many cannot. Quality doesn’t mean much if it is unreachable. While Obamacare tries to address the price issue by the government taking on the free market’s oligopoly pricing premium, the taxpayer is still on the hook in the form of higher debt levels for future generations to worry about. The Canadian approach of regulating the market to eliminate the oligopoly pricing is a superior approach, but one many Americans with their market fundamentalist culture cannot endure.

  2. This outcome on Obamacare is actually not a bad one for Trump. The opposition to Trump comes not just from Democrats, but also Establishment Republicans who are in bed with entrenched special interest groups. Despite the appearance of cooperation, Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell in the Senate, have been part of the Establushment Republicans who want the status quo and are not Trump supporters. This bill was engineered badly by Paul Ryan and he will receive the blame, not Trump. This means Ryan, his recent nemesis, will potentially lose his Speakership, and one obstacle will be gone toward providing a more free market solution. In the meantime, the premiums being paid under Obamacare, will continue to increase massively, which means many may not be able to afford it. When this happens, the Democrats will own it. The Democrats moan about people not being covered under the new proposal, while de facto throwing millions off of health coverage due to Obamacare premium escalation.

  3. Who’s the Chump now Trump? I guess the drain hole got plugged up in the swamp. This is what happens when you have a divided party, it has more people in the party, that divides them, rather than unites them. When you try and represent an assortment of fringe factions especially hard line fringe factions into your party, you end up getting swallowed up in your own swamp. Justin Trudeau has a faction of lefties in his party, he knows how to reach out to them, to get their support, but he doesn’t have enough dissenting factions in his party to prevent him from governing. Gad, i love Canada…

    • When you run a country, you can’t run it properly with a party, if your party is as divided as the country, you try and represent, everyone looses, especially the voters.