7 defectors bring defeat for repeal of ‘Obamacare’
After seven years of emphatic campaign promises, Senate Republicans demonstrated they didn’t have the stomach to repeal “Obamacare” on Wednesday when it actually counted. The Senate voted 55-45 to reject legislation to throw out major portions of Barack Obama’s law without replacing it.
Seven Republicans, including Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, joined all Democrats in rejecting a measure by GOP Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky that would have repealed most of former President Obama’s health care law, with a two-year delay but no replacement. Congress passed nearly identical legislation in 2015 and sent it to Obama, who unsurprisingly vetoed it.
Yet this time, with Republican President Donald Trump in the White House itching to sign the bill, the measure failed on the Senate floor. 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 GOP 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.
The real-world implications of repeal have proven sobering to GOP senators answering to voters who’ve come to rely on expanded insurance coverage under the law.
It’s not over yet. But what the party’s senators might end up agreeing on instead is far from clear.