President Trump shifted blame to Democrats for the failure of the GOP majority to take up legislation to repeal-and-replace Obamacare, predicting that they would come to the table for future legislation when they see that the current health law fails.
House Speaker Paul Ryan pulled the pending repeal-and-replace legislation from the floor on Friday after it became clear that it did not have enough Republican support to move it forward. No Democrats were expected to vote for the bill, and were not involved in the process of crafting the legislation.
“We were very close,” Trump told reporters from the Oval Office. “The best thing we can do politically speaking is let Obamacare explode.”
He suggested that more Democrats would be willing to negotiate as the current law falters.
In election cycle after election cycle, Republicans have vowed to repeal Obamacare, officially known as the Affordable Care Act, and Trump campaigned on a promise to seek and sign legislation that would offer lower-cost insurance for better coverage.
But the legislation that he and House Speaker Paul Ryan endorsed proved problematic even to their party’s caucus, particularly after a Congressional Budget Office report that 24 million people would lose coverage over the next decade. Efforts to add provisions to please more conservatives seemed to only lose support among more moderate members. Ultimately, Trump said, they fell about 10 to 15 House Republicans short of reaching the 216 needed to pass the repeal-and-replace legislation.
After the defeat, Speaker Paul Ryan said that the failure was a “setback, no two ways about it.”
“I wish we had the consensus we needed to bring a bill to the floor to replace it,” Ryan said. “We needed 216 people. We were close. But we didn’t have 216 people.”
He said that “Obamacare is the law of the land” and that “we are going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future.” He continued to insist that the Affordable Care Act, passed in 2010, would not survive in its current form.
He also suggested that one of the problems was in timing and governance, as the Republicans find themselves in control of Congress and the White House.
“Moving from an opposition party to a governing party comes with growing pains,” Ryan said. “And we’re feeling those growing pains today. We came really close today, but we came up short. I spoke to the President just a little while ago and I told him the best thing to do was to pull this bill and he agreed with that.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said that the decision to pull the bill was “pretty exciting for us” and called it a “victory.”
Trump said that they would now move on to tax reform. Ryan said that the failure of the healthcare bill would make GOP plans to do tax reform “more difficult, but not impossible.”
Trump said that “someday in the not too distant future” there would be new health reform legislation that draws bipartisan support.
Hillary Clinton, who during the presidential campaign said that she would work to fix the problems with the Affordable Care Act, called the defeat of the GOP legislation “a victory for anyone who believes affordable health care is a human right.”
“We cannot forget: This victory happened because people in every corner of our country committed their time and energy to calling their representatives, showing up at town hall meetings, and making their voices heard.”
Democrats also pushed back on Trump’s contention that Obamacare was imploding. They cited reports from FactCheck.org and PolitiFact that while there are troubles in some of the insurance exchanges, the markets have stabilized.