Senate Republicans’ effort to replace the Affordable Care Act fell apart late Monday as two GOP Senators whose votes were needed to begin debate indicated they would not support proceeding to debate on the bill. The breakdown comes after weeks of fruitless negotiations to win 50 votes on the bill, with both those on the right and left finding fault in the latest compromise. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, hoping to put the issue behind him, announced that he would call up a 2015 bill to repeal Obamacare with a two-year delay—legislation that passed both GOP-controlled chambers in 2015 and was vetoed by then-President Obama. That move, which is already finding defectors among Republicans, is designed to show that the GOP tried everything it could on healthcare, rather than actually achieve repeal of the ACA. But the stakes are different now than 2015, with President Trump in office ready to sign it—which only lessens the long odds of its passage.
For the GOP, this is a predictable, but no less embarrassing moment. The party that spent the last seven years promising voters and donors that it would repeal Obamacare is set to fail once again—at a time when it controls both chambers of Congress and the White House. It raises doubts about the party’s capacity to govern at all, and complicates future efforts on tax reform, infrastructure, and other priorities. No one argues that the ACA is perfect, and privately Republicans argue that if they can’t get repeal they’ll have to work with Democrats to tweak the legislation or own the consequences. Now the party must figure out how to accept—and convince its supporters of—the ACA as the law of the land that must be fixed, rather than the target of perpetual repeal promises.
For Trump, it’s another humbling moment in governance. After celebrating the success of the House bill months ago in a Rose Garden celebration, he turned around and trashed it, spoiling political capital and breeding ill-will. As the Senate debated, his political arm threatened to target defecting lawmakers, further angering those who believed he wasn’t seriously engaged on the issue. And as the legislation was collapsing, the White House was caught flat-footed, unprepared to explain how the man who promised “I alone can fix it” was set to fail.
Trump lashed out on Twitter Monday night and Tuesday morning against Democrats, some Republicans, and the Senate’s rules. Another fiscal crisis looms. And Chris Christie’s revenge.
Here are your must reads:
GOP Health Care Bill Collapses
Senate Republicans will shelve their bill to replace Obamacare, dealing a major blow to Trump’s agenda [Politico]
Steven Mnuchin, Trump’s Treasury Secretary, Is Hurtling Toward His First Fiasco
No plans yet for debt limit, government spending [Washington Post]
Trump Recertifies Iran Nuclear Deal, but Only Reluctantly
Admin slaps Iranians with sanctions for missile program [New York Times]
Could Jared Kushner Actually Lose His Security Clearance?
We Asked the Experts [TIME]
“It’s not appropriate for me to stand up here and comment about a business. I believe that’s a little out of bounds.” — White House Press Secretary Sean addressing Trump brands sale of merchandise manufactured overseas
“The Senate must go to a 51 vote majority instead of current 60 votes. Even parts of full Repeal need 60. 8 Dems control Senate. Crazy!” — President Trump in a Tuesday morning tweet
Bits and Bites
Tillerson to Shutter State Department War Crimes Office [Foreign Policy]
Two More Republican Senators Oppose the Health Bill, Killing It for Now [Associated Press]
President Trump Unveils Goals for a New NAFTA Deal With Canada and Mexico [Associated Press]
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