Republican leaders in congress have pulled President Donald Trump’s American Healthcare Act from the voting schedule due to lack of support from both moderate and hardline Republicans.
The healthcare bill, which was aimed at fulfilling Trump’s oft-made campaign promise of promptly repealing and replacing the Affordable Healthcare Act (Obamacare), was Trump’s first major legislative effort. But without enough support from his own party, the act will not move forward and Obamacare will remain in place.
“We’re going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan.
Immediately after failing to repeal Obamacare and replace it with his own healthcare bill, Trump took to the media, claiming he never promised to repeal and replace Obamacare.
“I never said ‘repeal and replace Obamacare,’ you’ve all heard my speeches. I never said, ‘repeal it and replace it within 64 days.’”
In reality, Trump has been quoted at least 68 times saying he will “repeal and replace” Obamacare, and four of those times he has promised to do it immediately upon becoming president.
“We will immediately repeal and replace Obamacare,” tweeted Trump on February 9, 2017.
It is evident the prowess Trump claims to have for making deals has not yet manifested during his presidency, as he failed not only to unite Democrats and Republicans, but the factions within his own party.
The mixed reaction to the bill among Republicans exposes a party that is deeply divided ideologically, which could be a potential obstacle in the president’s future legislative agenda. Many of the Republicans opposed to Trump’s healthcare bill did so because they believe the bill did not go far enough in removing the benefits and protections of Obamacare.
With two blocked travel bans, a national security advisor that resigned after being wrapped up in scandal, and the looming investigations into ties between his campaign and Russia, Trump’s young administration has not been off to a smooth start.
While Trump admitted he was surprised the bill was pulled, he remains optimistic about the setback, believing the Democrats to be the real “losers”.
“Obamacare unfortunately will explode, it’s going to have a very bad year,” said Trump, who continued to say that when it does, the Democrats will have to face it, because they “own Obamacare.”
“They have Obamacare for a little while longer until it ceases to exist, which it will, at some point in the near future.”
The Democrats accepted Trump’s blame with minimal resistance, glad that former president Barack Obama’s major legislative achievement will remain, at least for now.
“Let’s just, for a moment, breathe a sigh of relief for the American people that the Affordable Care Act was not repealed,” said House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi.
While Trump didn’t single out any of the Republicans that went against his bill, he did mention that he “learned a lot about loyalty.”
The bill’s major opponents within the Republican party was the House Freedom Caucus, made up of hardline conservatives who believe it to be too generous, preferring a full repeal of Obamacare.
Trump’s healthcare bill has been criticized by many conservative groups for being “Obamacare-lite,” in that it preserves some aspects of the existing law.
The bill would have seen a vast majority of Americans, especially the poor and old, paying several thousand dollars more for their health insurance. It would have reduced the subsidies currently in place to help low-income people, and cut off federal funding to Planned Parenthood for one year.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reported that while the bill would save $337 billion dollars by 2026, though it would also leave 24 million Americans without any health coverage.