The implosion of the Senate Republican health care bill leaves a divided GOP with its flagship legislative priority in tatters and confronts a wounded President Donald Trump and congressional leaders with dicey decisions about addressing their perhaps unattainable seven-year-old promise of repealing President Barack Obama’s law.
Two GOP senators — Utah’s Mike Lee and Jerry Moran of Kansas — sealed the measure’s doom late Monday when each announced they would vote “no” in an initial, critical vote that had been expected as soon as next week. Their startling, tandem announcement meant that at least four of the 52 GOP senators were ready to block the measure — two more than Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., had to spare in the face of a wall of Democratic opposition.
“Regretfully, it is now apparent that the effort to repeal and immediately replace the failure of Obamacare will not be successful,” McConnell said in a late evening statement that essentially waved a white flag.
It was the second stinging setback on the issue in three weeks for McConnell, whose reputation as a legislative mastermind has been marred as he’s failed to unite his chamber’s Republicans behind a health overhaul package that’s highlighted jagged divides between conservatives and moderates. In late June, he abandoned an initial package after he lacked enough GOP support to pass.