years of Republican efforts to eradicate President Barack Obama's
proudest domestic achievement ended Friday before a single vote was
House Speaker Paul Ryan
sensationally pulled his Obamacare repeal bill from the floor
Friday afternoon, a day after President Donald Trump had threatened
to walk away from health care reform if he didn't get a vote.
"We were very close," Trump said in
the Oval Office after the bill was pulled. "It was a very, very
decision to delay the vote marks an acute embarrassment for the
President, who had gambled big by presenting holdout House
conservatives with a take-it-or-leave it ultimatum Thursday night
and put his own credibility on the line.
But Trump repeatedly pointed the
finger directly at Democrats, who all opposed the measure, rather
than at his own party, which holds a significant majority in the
"We had no Democratic support," he
said. "I've been saying for the last year and a half that the best
thing we could do, politically speaking, is let Obamacare explode.
It's exploding right now."
Trump reiterated the point in a
tweet Saturday morning, saying, "Obamacare will explode and we will
all get together and piece together a great health care plan for
THE PEOPLE. Do not worry!"The failure of the GOP plan also puts
Ryan in a much weakened political position, after being defied by
his own conference, which seems just as unsuited to governing in
the Trump era as it was when it was effectively a protest coalition
It became clear during a day of
intense political intrigue that despite fierce arm-twisting by
Trump, Ryan and other leaders that the votes simply were not there
to pass the bill and the leadership and the White House were headed
for a lopsided defeat.
They were unable to narrow the
schism between Freedom Caucus conservatives, who believe the bill
keeps too much of Obamacare intact, and moderates who worry they
will pay an electoral price if millions of Americans lose health
The House meltdown on Obamacare
repeal has perilous implications for the American health care
system, with Republicans apparently unable to repeal the law but
also unwilling to fix the deficiencies that the White House says
will collapse the law.
"We came up short," Ryan told
reporters. "We are going to be living with Obamacare for the
"In my life, I have never seen an
administration as incompetent as the one occupying the White House
today," said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, the New York
Democrat who spars often with Trump. "Today we've learned they
can't count votes and they can't close a deal. So much for the art
of the deal."