ACA repeal effort falls short as GOP can't muster votes

By Brian Casey, staff writer

March 24, 2017 -- Republicans have shelved legislation that would have repealed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) -- known colloquially as Obamacare. In a March 24 press conference, President Donald Trump acknowledged the failure of the repeal effort and said his administration will now move on to other priorities, such as tax reform.

After several days of political brinksmanship, Republican leaders in the House of Representatives on Friday pulled a scheduled vote on the American Health Care Act (AHCA), legislation championed by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) to repeal and replace the ACA. The move effectively ended the AHCA's chance of passage.

Trump and Ryan had worked closely together on the legislation, but the pair ran into headwinds from the conservative House Freedom Caucus, which believed that the AHCA did not do enough to unwind Obamacare. A number of moderate Republican House members had their own concerns about the legislation, especially after the Congressional Budget Office predicted that its passage would result in 24 million Americans losing their health insurance by 2026.

With Democrats sitting on the sidelines, Trump and Ryan tried to woo Republican support for the bill, but ultimately to no avail. A vote was scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Eastern time on March 24, but it was tabled after enough support failed to materialize to pass the legislation.

In a press conference held after the vote was withdrawn, Trump thanked Ryan and other Republicans who had worked on the AHCA. He also took a swipe at Democrats for not participating in the effort, and accused party leaders Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) of being "the losers."

Trump said his administration would now move on to other issues, such as reforming the tax code. He indicated that the administration would shelve any efforts to repeal Obamacare for the foreseeable future.

"We have to let Obamacare go its way for a while. I'd love to see it do well but it can't," Trump said. "It's imploding and soon will explode, and it's not going to be pretty."

He opened the door to working with the Democrats in the future on healthcare reform, which he predicted would take place as the ACA encounters difficulty in the market.

"The Democrats have to reach out when they are ready, and when they are ready we will be ready," Trump said. "There will be some Democratic support, and it will be an even better bill."

Copyright © 2017
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