U.S. President Donald Trump has said that the White House “learned a lot about loyalty and the vote-getting process” following the dramatic failure of a Republican-backed bill that would have made good on a campaign promise to repeal and replace ObamaCare.
Trump said House Republicans were 10 to 15 votes shy of getting the bill passed and blamed the defeat on Democrats.
House Speaker Paul Ryan pulled the bill minutes before a vote was to take place as it became apparent there was not enough support for passage.
Democrats were united against it, and a conservative bloc of Republicans were unmoved by 11th-hour negotiations.
“We had no Democratic support,” Trump said from the Oval Office. “They weren’t going to give us a single vote.”
The president added that the “best thing we can do, politically speaking, is let ObamaCare explode.
It’s exploding right now… Almost all states have big problems.”
Trump claimed he never said he would “repeal and replace ObamaCare within 64 days,” though he repeatedly promised during the campaign he’d do it on Day One.
Ryan, R-Wis., withdrew the legislation after Trump called and asked him to halt debate without a vote.
“We came really close today but we came up short,” Ryan said. He added that Friday’s developments were “not the end of the story” though he immediately pivoted to other items on the GOP agenda, including tax reform.
“We have big, ambitious plans to improve people’s lives,” he said.
Ryan made the walk to the White House shortly after noon to tell the president he lacked the votes to push the bill through.
Friday marks the seventh anniversary of the signing of the Affordable Care Act by former President Barack Obama.
The GOP bill would have replaced ObamaCare, which mandated that almost every American have health insurance.
“This was a rejection of the repeal of the Affordable Care Act,” Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez said in a written statement. “In the words of my friend Joe Biden: This is a BFD.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called the failed GOP health care bill a “victory for the American people.”
Republicans have spent seven years campaigning against Obama’s signature health care law, and cast dozens of votes to repeal it in full or in part.
But when they finally got the chance to pass a repeal bill that actually had a chance to get signed, they couldn’t pull it off.
What happens next is unclear, but the path ahead on other priorities, such as overhauling the tax code, could grow more daunting.