A U.S. Senate led by Donald Trump’s fellow Republicans dealt the president a harsh blow on Friday, failing to move ahead with a major campaign promise to dismantle Obamacare as they fell one vote short of passing healthcare legislation.
Three Republican senators—John McCain, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski—joined Senate Democrats in the dramatic early-morning 51-49 vote rejecting the bill. The outcome may spell doom for the party’s seven-year quest to gut a 2010 law that was Democratic former President Barack Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was unsuccessful in securing passage of even a stripped-down so-called skinny bill that would have repealed a few key parts of Obamacare. Broader legislation was defeated earlier in the week.
“It’s time to move on,” McConnell, whose reputation as a master strategist was in tatters, said on the Senate floor after the vote that unfolded at roughly 1:30 a.m.
“This is clearly a disappointing moment,” McConnell added. “The American people are going to regret that we couldn’t find a better way forward.”
The Senate‘s action also means that the Affordable Care Act remains in place and must be administered by an administration hostile to it. Republicans have long denounced Obamacare as an intrusion by government on people’s healthcare decisions.
“3 Republicans and 48 Democrats let the American people down. As I said from the beginning, let Obamacare implode, then deal. Watch!” Trump wrote on Twitter after the vote.
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
The president has demanded at various times that Obamacare should be allowed to collapse on its own, that it should be repealed without replacement, and that it should be repealed and replaced.