After seven years of emphatic campaign promises, senate Republicans on Wednesday failed to repeal “Obamacare”, as the senate voted 55-45 to reject legislation undoing major portions of Barack Obama’s healthcare law without replacing it.
Seven Republicans joined all Democrats in rejecting a measure by Republican Rand Paul of Kentucky that would have repealed most of former President Obama’s health care law, with a two-year delay but no replacement.
The failed effort was a remarkable contrast from less than two years ago, when a Republican-controlled House and Senate passed an identical measure and sent it to Obama. He vetoed the bill. In 2015, the passage of that legislation was largely viewed as a political messaging exercise: GOP lawmakers were keenly aware that Obama would not sign it into law.
But now, with Republican President Donald Trump in the White House and ready to sign a bill, the stakes are real — as are the realities of voting to repeal the current health care law without a replacement in place. The failure crystalized the new reality for Republicans: more than seven years after the enactment of Obamacare, there is growing recognition within the GOP that a straight repeal of the law is not viable.
The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that repealing “Obamacare” without replacing it would cost more than 30 million Americans their insurance coverage, and that was a key factor in driving away more Republican senators than Majority Leader Mitch McConnell could afford to lose in the closely divided senate.
The result frustrated other Republican senators, some of whom expressed disbelief that their colleagues would flip-flop on legislation they had voted for only two years ago and long promised to voters. Of the current Republican senators, only moderate Susan Collins of Maine opposed the 2015 repeal bill.