President Donald Trump spoke out Friday afternoon after Republicans pulled the Obamacare overhaul he had endorsed, criticizing Democratic opposition to the bill and passing off the responsibility for its failure.
"I've been saying for the last year and a half that the best thing we can do politically speaking is let Obamacare explode," said Trump, who supported the plan and spent much of the past week personally lobbying for its success.
The American Health Care Act was pulled from an anticipated vote Friday afternoon after it became apparent the bill did not have enough votes to pass.
Trump, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, and other members of the administration and Republican leadership were working to win over moderate holdouts and members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus on the bill, a number of whom had opposed the measure.
In Trump's comments to the press from the Oval Office -- where he was joined by Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price -- he singled out efforts from congressional Democrats to block the bill, going so far as to call the Senate and House Minority Leaders Chuck Schumer, D-New York, and Nancy Pelosi, D-California, "the losers" in the situation.
"We had no Democrat support. We had no votes from the Democrats," said Trump at the top of his statement. "They weren't going to give us a single vote so it's a very difficult thing to do."
In 2010, Democrats passed the Affordable Care Act -- the law Republicans were attempting to "repeal and replace" -- without a single Republican vote in the House and Senate.
The president further portrayed his position Friday as one in favor of allowing the ACA to continue as law until its failure, despite his consistent call for the law's repeal throughout his presidential campaign -- often saying it would take place "immediately" as one of his first acts as president.
Within the last two weeks, Trump labeled the strategy of leaving Obamacare in place "the wrong thing to do for the country."
“I tell Tom Price and I tell Paul Ryan, I tell every one of them, I say the best thing you can do politically is wait a year because it's gonna blow itself off the map," said Trump on March 13. "But that's the wrong thing to do for the country. It's the wrong thing to do for our citizens.”
Facing his first legislative defeat and predicting the downfall of a policy that provides health insurance to millions of Americans, Trump maintained that the eventual implementation of a Republican plan "will go very smoothly," and said his administration "learned a lot." He mostly avoided assigning blame to Republicans despite continued holdouts from multiple party factions.
"We learned a lot about loyalty," said Trump. When asked if he felt "betrayed" by the Freedom Caucus, he conceded he was "disappointed" and "surprised" but tried to spin the situation in his party's favor.
"I'll tell you what's going to come out of it is a better bill," said Trump. "I really believe a better bill because there were things in this bill I didn't particularly like." He neglected to elaborate on any specific items.
As for Ryan's status as speaker of the House, the president continued to support the Wisconsin Republican and complemented his diligence while previewing the next item on the GOP's agenda.
"I think Paul really worked hard and I would say that we will probably start going very, very strongly for the big tax cuts and tax reform," said Trump. "That will be next."