Senate GOP lacks votes for Obamacare repeal, Trump says to let it fail

Three GOP senators said they wouldn't vote to repeal without replacement.

ByABC News
July 18, 2017, 6:33 PM

— -- Three Republican senators have come out against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's plan to repeal Obamacare, putting the brakes on second-ditch efforts to roll back the Obama administration's signature health care legislation.

The revelation came less than a day after four senators voiced opposition on Monday night to his plan A on health care, which would have repealed the Affordable Care Act and replaced it with legislation crafted by Republicans.

After Sens. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.; Susan Collins, R-Maine; and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said they would not support a motion to proceed on the effort to repeal without a ready replacement, President Donald Trump said he would not take responsibility for the future of the current health care law — a future he said would feature the law's failure, which he said Republicans should allow to happen.

"Let Obamacare fail," Trump said at the White House on Tuesday. "It'll be a lot easier, and I think we're probably in that position where we'll just let Obamacare fail. 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."

On Tuesday night, however, McConnell announced that in consultation with the White House, the Senate will hold a vote to advance the House-passed health care bill "early next week."

After Monday night's collapse of the replacement plan originally touted by McConnell, Trump pointed the finger at Democrats and "a few Republicans" while offering mixed signals about how the party should proceed.

"Republicans should just REPEAL failing ObamaCare now & work on a new Healthcare Plan that will start from a clean slate," Trump tweeted Monday night, echoing McConnell's pivot to the repeal-only strategy. He followed up Tuesday morning, though, to express his desire that the law should be allowed to fail on its own.

Even while he repeated the wish to let the health care law fail — one he also shared in March as the House's ultimately passed American Health Care Act replacement appeared headed toward collapse — Trump allowed for the possibility that the repeal fight "will go on and we'll win."

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas is planning to move forward with a vote on the motion to proceed on the House-passed bill, a spokesperson told ABC News. With at least three Republican senators having voiced their opposition, the motion is poised not to pass.

In Trump's Tuesday morning tweets, he appeared to take aim at the four GOP senators who stood in opposition to the party's health care replacement bill: Collins, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Mike Lee of Utah and Jerry Moran of Kansas.

"We were let down by all of the Democrats and a few Republicans," Trump tweeted. "Most Republicans were loyal, terrific & worked really hard."

"We will return!" he added.

The intraparty tension continued as Trump looked ahead to the 2018 midterm elections and the prospect of adding lawmakers to aid in the party's endeavors.

"The way I look at it is, in '18, we're going to have to get some more people elected," he said. "We have to go out, and we have to get more people elected that are Republican. And we have to probably pull in those people, those few people that voted against it. I don't know."

None of the senators whose stances led to the collapse of the party's efforts Monday and Tuesday are up for re-election in 2018.

Vice President Mike Pence joined Trump in criticizing Congress on Tuesday for failing to advance one of the administration's major legislative goals, seeming to portray allowing the current law to remain in place as untenable.

"Inaction is not an option," Pence said in remarks to the National Retail Federation before the repeal-only plan too appeared to fail. "Congress needs to step up, Congress needs to do their job, and Congress needs to do their job now."

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said on the Senate floor, "Make no mistake about it, passing repeal without a replacement would be a disaster. Our health care system would implode."

He added, "The door to bipartisanship is open right now," though "not with repeal" — a notion Trump seemed open to during his White House remarks, though under different terms.

"We'll let Obamacare fail, and then the Democrats are going to come to us, and they're going to say, 'How do we fix it?'" said Trump.

ABC News' Mariam Khan and Alexander Mallin contributed to this report.

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