The seven-year Republican quest to scrap Obamacare, a major campaign vow by President Donald Trump, lay in ruins yesterday after the Senate failed to dismantle the healthcare law, with congressional leaders now planning to move on to other matters.
John McCain, the maverick 80-year-old senator and 2008 Republican presidential nominee, cast the deciding vote in the dramatic early-morning showdown on the Senate floor as a bill to repeal key elements of Obamacare was defeated, 51-49, dealing Trump a crushing political setback.
McCain, who flew from Arizona this week after being diagnosed with brain cancer and was heading back for further treatment starting on Monday, joined fellow Republicans Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski in voting with Senate Democrats unified against the legislation.
“It’s time to move on,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whose reputation as a master strategist was diminished, said on the Senate floor after the vote at roughly 1.30am.
While House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan said fellow Republicans should not give up on healthcare, he cited other pressing issues that needed attention, including major tax-cut legislation sought by Trump.
The Senate’s healthcare failure called into question the Republican Party’s ability to govern even as it controls the White House, Senate and House of Representatives.
Trump has not had a major legislative victory after more than six months in office, and his administration is mired in investigations into contacts between his election campaign and Russia and high-level White House staff infighting. He had promised to get major healthcare legislation, tax cuts and a boost in infrastructure spending through Congress in short order.
Also on the legislative agenda are spending bills for the fiscal year beginning October 1 to avoid a government shutdown and raising the US debt limit. Reuters