Now that they lack the votes to both repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, Senate Republicans are poised to vote for a straight-up repeal of former President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare reform law.
A replacement bill would come later, said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
“I regret that the effort to repeal and immediately replace the failures of Obamacare will not be successful. That doesn’t mean we should give up. We will now try a different way,” McConnell said on the Senate floor Tuesday.
“In the coming days, the Senate will take up and vote on a repeal of Obamacare combined with a stable, two-year transition period as we work toward patient-centered healthcare," he added.
Yet one Republican senator has already said she wouldn't support such a plan.
"I cannot vote to repeal Obamacare without a replacement plan that addresses my concerns and the needs of West Virginians," Sen. Shelley Moore Capito said in a statement.
House Speaker Paul Ryan said at a press conference on Tuesday that he wasn't willing to predict what will happen next, but added that a repeal and replace bill, such as the one his members passed, is "the best way to go."
The Senate was forced to abandon its plan to replace the ACA with the Better Care Reconciliation Act after four senators said they’d vote against a motion to proceed—two announcing their defection last night. The Senate could only afford to lose two votes and still move the legislation to the floor for a full vote.
Jerry Moran of Kansas and Mike Lee of Utah both announced Monday night that they would vote no on a motion to proceed. Susan Collins of Maine and Rand Paul of Kentucky both already said they would vote against the measure, leaving Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell with no votes to spare, as he needs 50 to pass the bill.
McConnell had already delayed his plans to vote on the bill this week due to Sen. John McCain’s absence from the chamber following an unexpected surgery. It was the second time McConnell had to delay a vote; the first time he simply lacked enough GOP votes to proceed.
President Donald Trump issued two statements on Twitter. One last night encouraged repealing ACA and starting with a clean slate. This morning, however, he was again in favor of keeping it and place and allowing it to fail.
Republicans should just REPEAL failing ObamaCare now & work on a new Healthcare Plan that will start from a clean slate. Dems will join in!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 18, 2017
As I have always said, let ObamaCare fail and then come together and do a great healthcare plan. Stay tuned!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 18, 2017
Trump held a dinner on Monday to rally some GOP senators around the bill. Trump told the gathering that the party would look like “dopes” if they couldn’t pass the bill after passing a repeal bill in 2015, Politico reported.
He also blamed Democrats for not doing more to help repeal and replace ACA.
Editor's note: This article has been updated to reflect new developments.