‘It’s an insane process’: How Trump and Republicans failed on their health-care bill
Vice President Pence arrived at the National Governors Association summer meeting with one mission: to revive support for the flagging Republican plan to rewrite the nation’s health-care laws.
Instead of rousing cheers on the waterfront in Providence, R.I., Pence was greeted with an icy air of skepticism Friday as he pitched the legislation, which would reduce federal Medicaid funding and phase out coverage in dozens of states.
By Monday evening, when President Trump and Pence gathered a cluster of GOP senators in the Blue Room of the White House over plates of lemon ricotta agnolotti and grilled rib-eye steak, the measure was all but dead.
“The president talked about France and Bastille Day,” Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) said in an interview Tuesday, recalling the president’s tales during dinner of parades and pomp from his recent trip to Paris.
Health care bill collapse leaves divided GOP at crossroads
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.
The episode has also been jarring for Trump, whose intermittent lobbying and nebulous, often contradictory descriptions of what he’s wanted have shown he has limited clout with senators. That despite a determination by Trump, McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., to demonstrate that a GOP running the White House and Congress can govern effectively.
Now, McConnell said, the Senate would vote on a measure the GOP-run Congress approved in 2015, only to be vetoed by Obama — a bill repealing much of Obama’s statute, with a two-year delay designed to give lawmakers time to enact a replacement. Trump embraced that idea last month after an initial version of McConnell’s bill collapsed due under Republican divisions, and did so again late Monday.
MOST UNPRODUCTIVE CONGRESS IN 164 YEARS
Just six months ago, it looked like the Republican Party was about to go on a legislative blitzkrieg, shredding law after law passed by the Obama administration. ObamaCare would be vaporized and replaced with a nickel rattling inside an empty Mountain Dew can. Dodd-Frank was sure to be tossed aside for a transparent giveaway to Wall Street. And Republicans would pass their regressive tax reform, their perplexing border-adjustment tax, and so much more. The GOP hadn’t held total power in American politics since 2006, and the party had become much more conservative in the interim. And instead of George W. Bush, a man who recognized at least some theoretical limits on free market fundamentalism, the new Congress would work with a sub-literate tabula rasa named Donald Trump, a man who could probably be persuaded to inject himself with experimental medication if an important-seeming person whispered “do it” in his ear.
But a funny thing happened on the way to libertarian utopia. Indeed, it turns out that the GOP-controlled Congress can’t seem to pass any meaningful laws at all. Either they have forgotten how, or the divisions in their own increasingly radicalized caucus are proving too difficult to surmount. Whatever the explanation, thus far these GOP legislators are on track to be the least productive group since at least the Civil War.
Critics From All Sides Hammer McConnell
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is facing mounting criticism from politicians and pundits on both sides of the aisle after the collapse of the Republican health care overhaul bill.
Before the bill was pulled Monday night, Sen. Ron Johnson told a local newspaper that McConnell’s conflicting statements to different members of his caucus were a “significant breach of trust.”
The Republican from Wisconsin was referring to a comment by McConnell to some Republican senators that Medicaid reform wouldn’t happen under the overhaul bill.
OUT OF EXCUSES FOR NOT ACCOMPLISHING ANYTHING