WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork) — A last-ditch effort by Republicans to repeal Obamacare failed in a dramatic Senate vote early Friday morning.
After a long night of drama and debate, Senate Republicans failed to pass what was considered a final effort. The last option on the floor was known as the “skinny repeal.” It only repealed parts of the Affordable Care Act, including the requirement that most Americans buy insurance.
“The legislation I just laid down is called the Health Care Freedom Act and it restores freedom to Americans that Obamacare took away,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said.
The bill was seen as a way to pass something to begin negotiations with the House. But some Senators grew concerned the bill would actually become law.
“I need assurances from the House speaker that this won’t be the final product,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham.
House Speaker Paul Ryan responded, noting the House was willing to negotiate.
Then Senators voted with no one knowing for sure how it would turn out. In the end, two Republican Senators whose support was in doubt, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, voted no.
The bill’s fate was then sealed when Arizona Sen. John McCain, back from recent brain surgery, bolstered his reputation as a maverick by voting against the bill. He indicated his intention with a “thumbs down” gesture on the Senate floor.
The final vote was 49 to 51.
“This is clearly a disappointing moment,” McConnell said. “I regret that our efforts were not enough, this time.”
“Let me say it’s been a long, long road for both sides,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said.
Shortly afterword, President Donald Trump tweeted: “3 Republicans and 48 Democrats let the American people down. As I said from the beginning, let ObamaCare implode, then deal. Watch!”
The president later tweeted, “If Republicans are going to pass great future legislation in the Senate, they must immediately go to a 51 vote majority, not senseless 60…Even though parts of healthcare could pass at 51, some really good things need 60. So many great future bills & budgets need 60 votes….”
McCain issued a statement, saying in part, “We must now return to the correct way of legislating and send the bill back to committee, hold hearings, receive input from both sides of aisle.”
In a statement, Ryan said he is “disappointed and frustrated” with the outcome in the Senate, but does not think they should give up. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi says Democrats are ready to work with Republicans to amend and improve the Affordable Care Act.