White House blindsided by ‘repeal and replace’ health care plan’s implosion

The White House(WASHINGTON) — When Republican Sens. Mike Lee, of Utah, and Jerry Moran, of Kansas, effectively killed the Republican health care bill Monday night, they announced their position without first telling the White House about their move on the president’s top legislative priority, a White House official said.

The snub comes on the same night that President Trump hosted another group of Republican senators, all of whom supported the bill, for dinner at the White House in part to discuss strategy to pass the bill.

Prior to Moran and Lee’s announcements Monday night, Republicans were already in a precarious position with two other GOP senators already on the record as opposed (Rand Paul of Kentucky and Susan Collins of Maine). That was the maximum number of defections that Senate leadership could absorb and still pass the measure, assuming Vice President Mike Pence’s tie-breaking vote.

Trump on Tuesday morning sought to cast blame for the implosion of the GOP plan’s defeat on the Democrats, even though the plan was devised exclusively by Republicans without any input or support from Democrats.

We were let down by all of the Democrats and a few Republicans. Most Republicans were loyal, terrific & worked really hard. We will return!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 18, 2017

Going forward, the new plan is to bring up a bill that passed the Senate in December by a vote of 52-47 that amounted to a near-complete repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

Collins, who declared her opposition to the bill that was pulled Monday night, also voted against the 2015 bill. But 49 currently serving Republican senators voted for it. And Sen. Todd Young, of Indiana, then a member of Congress, voted for the bill in the House.

Theoretically, then, there may be 50 votes for this bill.

But the political climate has shifted dramatically since then. In 2015, that bill was passed as a symbolic gesture with the knowledge that it was dead on arrival at the White House, with then-President Obama vetoing the measure.

So while the latest plan faces an uphill battle, Republicans who supported the 2015 bill may have some explaining to do if they plan to vote against the measure this time around.

The new version of the 2015 plan will likely delay the repeal of the Affordable Care Act by as much as three years, in order to give Congress time to come up with a replacement plan before the repeal goes into effect.

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