KUSA -- The Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act died in the U.S. House of Representatives Friday when leadership scrapped it minutes before members were supposed to vote.
“We’re going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future,” House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) said. “I don’t know how long it’s going to take us to replace this law.”
It’s a blow to the speaker and President Donald Trump, who made repealing and replacing Obamacare their top legislative priority. Ryan told a room full of reporters that the GOP plans to move on to tax reform, border control and other issues.
Trump was quick to blame the bill’s failure on a lack of Democratic support. A charge Democrats rejected.
“I’ve got a whole list of ideas I’ve been carrying around in my purse just waiting for the day when some Republicans will come and agree to work with me,” Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Denver) said.
She was on the floor of the House when the Republicans canceled the vote and said everyone looked shocked.
“I think they must have been, frankly, losing more and more votes,” DeGette said. “If they had been very, very close I think they would have powered it through in the hopes of shaming that two or three people, but I think they were bleeding.”
DeGette and Rep. Jared Polis (D-Boulder) both said they’re ready to work on healthcare reform provided Republicans let go of the rhetoric of repeal and replace.
“Let’s push reset. Let’s work to make healthcare more affordable,” Polis said in a phone interview with 9NEWS. “And let’s stop this ridiculous partisan path that the country’s been on where they’ve been pursuing talking points rather than real policies to help people.”
The president signaled that he’d be open to Democrats coming to him after Obamacare “imploded.”
But he’s not going to try to get another healthcare bill off the ground anytime soon.
“I’m disappointed,” Rep. Ken Buck (R-Windsor) said. “Americans have been begging for years to get out from under the burdens of Obamacare, and we’ve got to find a way in the House to come together and develop a free market health insurance system.”
Buck’s a member of the Freedom Caucus – the conservative wing of the Republican Party whose members largely refused to support the American Healthcare Act.
“I was not completely sold on the bill,” Buck said, adding that his perfect bill wouldn’t necessarily look perfect to his fellow Republicans.
One of the major stumbling block for House Republicans was the limitations put on any bill by the Senate rules.
Budget bills only need 51 votes to pass the Senate, but all other bills first need 60 votes to close debate. Then, you can have a vote. Senate Democrats warned they would strip parts of the House bill they viewed as unrelated to the budget.
“I think we’re going to have look at some of the larger issues,” Buck said. “This was a fairly rushed process.”
Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) was the only Colorado representative to publicly support the bill.
He acknowledged the challenges facing his party in a statement, but wrote that it would be a mistake to stop trying.
“We need to get a bill to the Senate, refine it, and finish our work,” Coffman wrote in a statement. “History will judge the party harshly if we don’t keep our word to repeal and replace the Obamacare disaster.”