7 years of campaign promises and all the work to repeal and replace come crashing down. A huge let down that 3 republicans, including Sen. McCain, voted against the bill. Of course it wasn’t perfect, but it sure would have been much better… the proposed “bipartisan” modifications to Obamacare won’t do much.
From the WSJ:
Republicans worry failure sends message that party better at complaining than governing.
WASHINGTON—The collapse of Republicans’ drive to repeal the Affordable Care Act is prompting a wave of GOP anger and anxiety across the country, as the defeat has widened divisions within the party and emboldened Democrats hoping for major gains in the 2018 midterm elections.
The implosion of legislation to remake the U.S. health-care system has Republicans worried not just because they have failed to deliver on a marquee campaign pledge, but because it casts doubt on the broader promise to be a can-do governing party after years in the opposition.
“It is embarrassing,” said Michael Steele, former chairman of the Republican National Committee. “It sends a message to the country that we are very good at complaining and being the party of opposition, but we haven’t quite figured out how to govern.”
The party splintered and turned on itself in the hours after the predawn Senate vote rejecting a last-ditch GOP health-care bill. House Republicans grumbled about their Senate counterparts. Conservatives complained about centrists who cast the deciding votes. And the chasm between congressional Republicans and President Donald Trump, who has threatened to help mount primary challenges to wayward Republicans, widened.
“The anger is palpable,” said Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of Tea Party Patriots, who said she got 200 emails from irate conservatives within hours of the vote.
“It’s a huge disappointment,” said Rep. Richard Hudson (R., N.C.). “How dare these senators not deliver on the promise we all made, they all campaigned on. They can’t stop now.”
But many Republicans saw the Senate vote as the death knell for the party’s seven-year-old promise to repeal the Obama-era health law. It was a triumph for the Democratic Party and the anti-Trump “resistance” movement, whose demonstrations supporting the Affordable Care Act at congressional town-hall meetings pressured Republicans and helped boost the public’s once-tepid support for the law.
“Politicians only see the light when the people turn up the heat,” said Rep. Keith Ellison (D., Minn.), praising activists who organized against the GOP overhaul.
Democrats in Congress now face the question of whether to work with Republicans on bipartisan legislation to fix looming problems of the Affordable Care Act. Efforts to strike a compromise with the GOP risk angering liberal activists who want far broader changes such as a “Medicare for all,” single-payer system.
“The hunger from the base is to stop the worst, but then reach for the visionary change we need—both on the substance and in order to inspire voters,” said Anna Galland, executive director of the liberal group Moveon.org.
But the bigger splits now are within the GOP. Mr. Trump said in a Twitter message that Congress should now let the health-care system fall into disarray, and hope that will drive Democrats to compromise. Congressional Republicans aren’t happy with that approach, and worry that the problems of the health-care system will weigh on their electoral prospects.
Chris Wilson, a GOP pollster who advises Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah, says that the party can’t walk away from its promise to overhaul the health-care system.
“The GOP base won’t stand for being lied to for seven years,” said Mr. Wilson. “The GOP has to do something that they can defend next fall. ‘We tried and failed, now re-elect us’ isn’t going to work.”
The seeds of future primary challenges were implicit in the angry response of conservative activists.
“Republican moderates are the ones standing in the way of Obamacare repeal,” said Ms. Martin. “It is time to ‘crush’ the moderates and ‘punch them in the nose,’” she said, quoting the words once used by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) about the tea party.
Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel invoked the big loss in a Friday fundraising email for the 2018 midterm elections. “We need to elect conservatives to the Senate who will SUPPORT President Trump,” she said.
Ken Blackwell, an Ohio conservative activist who worked in the Trump transition team, said the health-care defeat puts a “higher value” on Congress quickly passing tax cuts, an issue more likely to unify the party. But he said that GOP effort will be hobbled by the intramural battles within the White House staff such as the rivalry between communications director Anthony Scaramucci and Reince Priebus, who was chief of staff until Mr. Trump intervened in the feud Friday and named Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly to replace him.
“The internecine skirmishes are not unique to this administration; they are just more drastic and more debilitating,” Mr. Blackwell said. “Somebody has to have a decisive win. Someone has to have the Super Bowl ring and be in control of executing the president’s agenda.”
– Janet Hook covers national politics in the Wall Street Journal’s Washington bureau.