Political News

No repeal for Obamacare is a defeat for Trump, 'sigh of relief' for Democrats

Posted March 24

— 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 center 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The bill was withdrawn just minutes before the House vote was to occur, and lawmaker said there were no plans to revisit the issue.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 blamed 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."

North Carolina legislators reacted differently to the news.

North Carolina Congressman G.K. Butterfield said the lack of votes for the Republican plan was a rejection to taking away access to preventive, mental health, and maternity care.

Congressman David Price called it a blatant disregard for the best interest of the American people.

Instead of repealing Obamacare and fixing the broken healthcare system, N.C. Representative Walter Jones says, Republicans tried jamming a bill through did neither.

But Representative Mark Walker called not voting on the bill a missed opportunity to repeal Obamacare. He said it is burdening employers and patients with soaring costs.

Congressman David Rouzer is not giving up and said, in a statement, he hopes Republicans will unite behind a repeal and replacement plan.

While he is disappointed, Congressman Richard Hudson says he too is unwavering in his resolve for a repeal.

And to make that happen, Republican Representative Robert Pittenger said he hopes cooler heads will prevail for those insisting the healthcare plan contain 100 percent of their views.

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 in Washington 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."


Associated Press writers Matthew Daly, Kevin Freking, Mary Clare Jalonick, Richard Lardner, Stephen Ohlemacher, Vivian Salama, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Ken Thomas contributed to this report.


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  • William Sherman Mar 25, 2017
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    View quoted thread

    Not quite so---the healthy young people yes, but add in the illegal aliens --no, we can 't leave them out here..

  • John Archer Mar 24, 2017
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    Those "deadbeat" individuals you speak of are mostly middle class young people who are healthy and would rather pay the penalty than get insurance they don't think they need. THAT is why your premiums are so high. I don't see how repealing the entire ACA is going to help anyone except the rich people who don't care about medical costs. It leaves all the rest of us holding the bag.

  • John Archer Mar 24, 2017
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    View quoted thread

    The ACA is not collapsing. The GOP keeps trying to sabotage it, but it's not failing. BOTH parties need to improve on it, not destroy it.

  • Marie Clark Mar 24, 2017
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    ACA, aka Obamacare, a law & tax penalty requiring all Americans 2 have some level of health insurance. A supposed Democratic success.

    Each person who enrolls in a exchange plan has enrollment (on the book) for a minimum of 90 days. Yet, many refuse 2 pay not only their 3 monthly premium payments but also their share of any of the medical costs. The "member/patient" pays not 1 cent.

    So, insurance ALSO doesn't pay a cent of anything between days 31 & 90 (insurance must pay law required services, days 1-30). Now medical provider is completely out all together with not a cent paid.

    Yet for 90 days, you are a winning statistic number. A "insured" person. A success number.

    Medical provider? A loser with unpaid accounts that no one or company pays & due to, has 2 spread the loss 2 everyone.

    Some statistical person should do a report on the numbers of enrolled who pay not a cent of premiums or only 1 month of.. kinda like the "employed" unemployed cause they fell off the books.

  • Vince DiSena Mar 24, 2017
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    Defeat? Obamacare is collapsing under its own weight. All that's left is to replace it. Paul Ryan is a talking head, zero worth pertaining to the goals of POTUS agenda. The President knows he needs a plan that works. Patience.

  • Brenda Lawrence Mar 24, 2017
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    The billionaires need to cough up more...a LOT more!

  • Barrett Powell Mar 24, 2017
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    Before Obamacare, I was paying for the uninsured every time I went to the hospital or to the doctor. After Obamacare, my BCBS insurance policy was cancelled because it didn't meet Obamacare guidelines (apparently my wife and I in our 50s need birth control and a lot of other "required" components we would never use). Instead, my insurance more than doubled. So now I just pay for the uninsured so they can have insurance.

    How again is this better?

  • Diana Page Mar 24, 2017
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    I already feel the pain of being a paying individual in a sea of non-paying people. I paid $970+ for a CT scan, and that was with a 20% discount for paying it all at once. I have insurance, but that was my deductible even with the insurance. So I am paying that much so that deadbeat individuals can go to the ER with no insurance to be treated for a hangnail!

  • Brenda Lawrence Mar 24, 2017
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    Albert, thank you for your informed comments. But why can't people see that the super rich are interested in tax cuts only, and don't care about the poor who elected Trump? There has been so much dark money from people like the Mercers thrown at this issue and also at supporting Bannon in his admitted efforts to dismantle our government. As a 71 yr old woman who has seen a lot, these are dark days indeed.

  • Tom Baker Mar 24, 2017
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    Well, if one party controls both houses of the legislature plus the executive branch, there is no escape possible in terms of responsibility. You might have hated Obama for 8 years, but starting from today on, health care is owned by the Republicans. They can make it or break it. Their attempt to break it this week has failed. Let's find out if they have some constructive powers in their ranks.

    BTW, Obama care as it is still in the books, was never meant to be the end result. It was known to be legislation that needs to evolve. Unfortunately, the GOP was never interested in improvement, their only goal was to object to whatever Obama came up with. Only looming public perception disasters brought them to the negotiation table.