Republicans hold a House majority. They don’t need a single Democratic vote to advance a health care reform bill to the Senate. And they control the both the legislature and the executive branch for the first time since 1928.
And yet, on Friday, Trumpcare failed. The bill was deeply unpopular with the American public — a poll released earlier this week found that only 17 percent of people strongly supported it — and a planned vote on it was called off when it became clear that there wasn’t enough Republican support to hold a successful vote.
In the end, Trump was caught between the House Freedom Caucus and more moderate Republicans. In a last-ditch effort to win enough support for the bill, Trump hammered out a deal with the Freedom Caucus on Thursday stripping the bill of Affordable Care Act’s “essential services” mandate. But allowing the sale of health plans that don’t cover basic things like emergency room visits resulted in the bill losing support from Republicans in bluer districts.
And so, on Friday afternoon, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) pulled the bill. The news broke a couple house after Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Trump did everything he could possibly do (in between trips to Mar-a-Lago and to various golf courses) to follow through on his oft-repeated promise to repeal and replace Obamacare.
Q from @kwelkernbc: Does the buck stop with Trump?
Spicer: “At the end of the day, this isn’t a dictatorship.” pic.twitter.com/9FYaLJBkUg
— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) March 24, 2017
Trump was even less accountable than Spicer. As news of the bill being pulled circulated, the president placed a call to the Washington Post’s Robert Costa and told him he didn’t blame Ryan for the Trumpcare’s demise.
"I don't blame Paul," Trump tells me
— Robert Costa (@costareports) March 24, 2017
Instead, in a subsequent conversation with the New York Times, Trump argued that it was somehow Democrats’ fault while distancing himself from the health care bill he was personally championing just hours earlier.
“Mr. Trump, in a telephone interview moments after the bill was pulled, blamed Democrats and predicted that they would seek a deal within a year after, he asserted, ‘Obamacare explodes’ because of higher premiums,” the Times reported. “The president said he did not fault Mr. Ryan and said that he was pleased to move past his first legislative fight. He maintained that he was merely going along with the House bill.”
The president reiterated his blame-the-Democrats sentiment to the Associated Press.
BREAKING: President Trump says health care bill fell short in lead-up to House vote because of no support from Democrats.
— The Associated Press (@AP) March 24, 2017
And Trump again completely overlooked the fact that the bill failed because of insufficient Republican backing during remarks he subsequently made to the press pool in the Oval Office.
“We had no Democrat support — we had no votes from the Democrats,” he said. “They weren’t going to give us a single vote, so it’s a very difficult thing to do.”
Pres. Trump after health care bill is pulled: “We were very close…the best thing we can do politically speaking is let Obamacare explode." pic.twitter.com/ppEFrf9IQu
— ABC News (@ABC) March 24, 2017
Trump is blaming House Democrats, but he plans to take it out on American citizens. He signaled that his plan is to turn his attention to tax cuts while letting “Obamacare explode.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) supports Trump’s plan.
Next move on health care – #CollapseandReplace.
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) March 24, 2017
While it’s unclear exactly what Trump and Graham mean they they say they intend to let Obamacare “explode” or “collapse,” the 24 million people who stood to lose their health insurance if the ACHA became law can breathe easy for now. Trump, who campaigned as a master dealmaker, sounds like he’s already done trying to strike a deal to make one of his signature campaign promises a reality.
TRUMP told me he is happy having this in the rearview mirror. "It's enough already," he said of the negotiations.
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) March 24, 2017
Despite what Trump would have you believe, those failed negotiations were all with members of his own party, not Democrats.