Republicans Kill Health Bill in Bitter Blow to Trump

John McCain (R-AZ) speaks with reporters after voting against the “skinny repeal”  health care bill on Capitol Hill in Washington on July 28.John McCain (R-AZ) speaks with reporters after voting against the “skinny repeal”  health care bill on Capitol Hill in Washington on July 28.

In a stinging blow to President Donald Trump, US Senate Republicans failed on Friday to dismantle Obamacare, falling short on a major campaign promise and perhaps ending a seven-year quest by their party to gut the healthcare law.

Voting in the early hours, three Republican senators, John McCain, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, crossed party lines to join Democrats in a dramatic 49-to-51 vote to reject a “skinny repeal” bill that would have eliminated some parts of Obamacare, Reuters reported.

“This is clearly a disappointing moment,” senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell told the Senate floor right after the vote. “The American people are going to regret that we couldn’t find a better way forward.”

Trump’s failure sent the dollar down against a basket of other currencies on Friday.

The setback leaves him without a major legislative win after more than six months in power, even though Republicans control the White House, senate and house of representatives. He had been expected to make rapid changes to healthcare, taxes and infrastructure spending.

“Three Republicans and 48 Democrats let the American people down. As I said from the beginning, let Obamacare implode, then deal. Watch!” Trump tweeted after the vote.

Trump has repeatedly berated congressional Republicans for being unable to overcome internal divisions to repeal Obamacare, but has offered no legislation himself, nor any clear guidance on what he would like to do about replacing the law.

The president has demanded at various times that Obamacare should be allowed to collapse on its own, that it should be repealed without replacement, and that it should be repealed and replaced.

The Affordable Care Act, approved by Democrats in 2010, was President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement. It provided health insurance to millions of uninsured Americans, but was denounced from the outset by Republicans who viewed it as government intrusion on people’s healthcare decisions.

Republicans hold 52 seats in the 100-seat senate. McConnell, whose reputation as a master legislative tactician was on the line, could afford to lose support from only two Republican senators, with the tie-breaking vote to be cast by Vice President Mike Pence, who was on the senate floor.

After the House passed a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare in May, McConnell grappled to get Republicans in the senate to agree on their version of the bill. Conservatives wanted a bill that would substantially gut Obamacare, while moderates were concerned over legislation that could deprive millions of Americans of their healthcare coverage.

As the vote approached, all eyes in the senate chamber were on McCain. After speaking to Pence and Graham, McCain walked across the floor to tell senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and other Democrats that he would vote with them.

When McCain walked to the front of the senate chamber to cast his deciding “no” vote, giving a thumbs down, Democrats cheered, knowing the bill would fail.


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