President Donald Trump has suffered a bitter defeat as one of his cornerstone campaign pledges, to repeal and replace Obamacare, failed to pass in Congress.
Mr Trump instructed that a vote on the “Trumpcare” bill be “pulled” moments before it was due to take place, as support among Republican congressmen evaporated.
Speaking in the Oval Office Mr Trump squarely blamed Democrats for unanimously opposing the bill, and said Obamacare would soon “explode”.
He said: “Now the Democrats own Obamacare 100 per cent. They own it. It’s exploding now and it’s going to be a very bad year. There are going to be explosive premium increases.”
Mr Trump said “politically” the failure of the bill was good for Republicans because Demcorats would be blamed for what he called the impedning collapse of Oabamcare. He said: “I’ve said for a long time, politically, the best thing we could do is let Obamacare explode, and it’s exploding right now.” Mr Trump added: “Now, we’ll go very strongly for tax reform and big tax cuts, that will be up next.”
Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Friday said his party “came up short” in a news conference minutes after pulling the GOP healthcare bill off the House floor, acknowledging that ObamaCare will stay in place “for the foreseeable future.”
“ObamaCare will remain the law of the land until it’s replaced,” the Speaker said. “We’re going to be living with ObamaCare for the foreseeable future.”
“We came really close today, but we came up short,” he added.
“I spoke to the president a little while ago and I told him the best thing I think to do was to pull this bill, and he agreed with that. I will not sugarcoat this; this is a disappointing day for us. Doing big things is hard.”
Ryan specifically thanked Trump for his help throughout the process, pushing back against speculation that the bill’s failure will divide the White House and House GOP leadership.
“The president gave his all in this effort. He did everything he possibly could to help people see the opportunity we have with this bill. He really has been fantastic,” Ryan said.
“Still, we have to do better and we will.”
Washington Post writer Robert Costa tweets while on the phone with President Trump, while discussing the pulled health-care bill.
“I don’t blame Paul,” Trump tells me
— Robert Costa (@costareports) March 24, 2017
Vice President Mike Pence had canceled Friday plans to travel and promote the AHCA in two states to remain in Washington, D.C. and work with the President.