In a stinging blow to President Donald Trump, US Senate Republicans have failed to dismantle Obamacare, falling short on a major campaign promise and perhaps ending a seven-year quest by their party to gut the healthcare law.
Voting in the early hours, three Republican senators, John McCain, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, crossed party lines to join Democrats in a dramatic 49-to-51 vote to reject a “skinny repeal” bill that would have killed some parts of Obamacare.
“This is clearly a disappointing moment,” Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said on an eerily quiet Senate floor right after the vote.
“The American people are going to regret that we couldn’t find a better way forward.”
Trump’s failure sent the dollar down against a basket of other currencies on Friday.
The setback leaves him without a major legislative win after more than six months in power, despite Republicans controlling the White House, Senate and House. He had been expected to make rapid changes to healthcare, taxes and infrastructure spending.
3 Republicans and 48 Democrats let the American people down. As I said from the beginning, let ObamaCare implode, then deal. Watch!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 28, 2017
Trump has repeatedly berated congressional Republicans for being unable to overcome internal divisions to repeal Obamacare, but has offered no legislation himself, nor any clear guidance on what he would like to do about replacing the law.
The president has demanded at various times that Obamacare should be allowed to collapse on its own, that it should be repealed without replacement, and that it should be repealed and replaced.
The Affordable Care Act, approved by Democrats in 2010, is former Democratic President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement. It provided health insurance to millions of previously uninsured Americans.
As the vote approached, all eyes in the Senate chamber were on McCain. The former Republican presidential nominee and Vietnam war hero flew back from Arizona after being diagnosed with brain cancer in order to vote.
When McCain walked to the front of the Senate chamber to cast his deciding “no” vote, giving a thumbs down, Democrats cheered, knowing the bill would fail.
After the bill’s defeat, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer told the Senate it was time to heed McCain’s call this week to return to a more transparent and bipartisan legislative process.