President Donald Trump lamented the inability of Senate Republicans to pass their healthcare bill, but said that coming up short was still “pretty impressive.”
“You had 52 people, you had 4 no’s,” Trump said during a meeting at the White House on Tuesday. “Now, we might have had another one, someone in there. But the vote would have been if you look at it, 48-4. That’s a pretty impressive vote by any standard. Yet you have a vote of 48-4 or something like that and you need more. That’s pretty tough.”
The bill, named the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), was going through the budget reconciliation process, meaning it needed only 50 votes for it to move forward — with Vice President Mike Pence serving as a tiebreaker. Republicans control 52 seats in the Senate.
Additionally, since no Democrats supported the bill, the actual vote would have been at least 48 to 52.
The back-up plan now, Trump said, is to “let Obamacare fail” and pin the blame on Democrats.
“We’re not going to own it, I’m not going to own it,” Trump said. “I can tell you the Republicans are not going to own it. We’ll let Obamacare fail and then the Democrats are going to come to us and they are going to say ‘how do we fix it, how do we fix it’ or ‘how do we come up with a new plan?'”
According to a poll by The Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health policy think tank, 59% of Americans think Trump and Republicans are “responsible for any problems” with the healthcare system going forward. Only 30% said they would blame Obama and the Democrats.
This comes as another chapter in Trump’s rapidly evolving response to the BCRA’s failure. The president tweeted Monday night that Republicans should try an immediate repeal of Obamacare, before following up on Tuesday morning with tweets advocating for allowing the insurance markets from the law to collapse and then working with Democrats.
Trump said he did not blame any of the Republican defectors from the bill, but was surprised that Sens. Jerry Moran and Mike Lee announced their opposition on Monday night.
“I was very surprised when the two folks came out last night because we thought they were in fairly good shape but they did,” Trump said. “You know, everybody has their own reason.”
Trump also said he was disappointed by the sinking of the BCRA, since the Republicans had campaigned on the repeal of Obamacare for so long.
“We’ve had a lot of victories but haven’t had a victory on health care,” Trump told reporters. “We are disappointed. I am very disappointed because again even as a civilian for seven years on health care, I’ve been hearing about repeal and replace and Obamacare is a total disaster.”
The statement came at nearly the exact same time as Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska became the third GOP senator to say they would vote against the motion to proceed on a straight repeal and replace later proposal. Murkowski joined Sens. Susan Collins and Shelley Moore Capito in rejecting the motion, effectively killing that tactic as well.