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McConnell Backup Plan To Repeal Affordable Care Act Falters

Jul 18, 2017
Originally published on July 18, 2017 5:38 pm

Updated at 2:40 p.m. ET

Hours after a replacement for the Affordable Care Act was all but scuttled by a clutch of Senate Republicans, three lawmakers appear to have doomed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's Plan B: Repeal the Affordable Care Act without replacing it.

Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and Susan Collins of Maine have all said they would vote "no" on a motion that would have kicked off McConnell's plan to vote on a straight repeal of Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

"To repeal, there has to be a replacement," Murkowski told reporters Tuesday. "There's enough chaos already, and this would just contribute to it."

Collins echoed those sentiments. "We can't just hope that we will pass a replacement within the next two years," she said in a statement, adding that it would "create great uncertainty for individuals who rely on the ACA and cause further turmoil in the insurance markets."

The three no votes were enough to tip the balance against the repeal-only option. With only 52 Republicans in the Senate, the plan for a vote on repeal could afford to lose only two votes. It requires the support of 50 senators for passage. With the defection of Murkowski, Capito and Collins, the bill has no more than 49 in the yes column.

Further, Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas tells NPR's Susan Davis, there are probably "five or six" Republicans in total who are against the motion.

President Trump, speaking to reporters in the Roosevelt Room, dished out plenty of blame for Democrats and Republicans alike.

The president said he was "disappointed" by Monday's collapse of the GOP replacement plan, known as the Better Care Reconciliation Act. He called Democrats "obstructionists" for not supporting the measure.

"For seven years I've been hearing 'repeal and replace' from Congress, and when we finally get a chance ... they don't do it," Trump said.

"I think we're probably in that position where we'll just let Obamacare fail," he said. "We're not going to own it. I'm not going to own it. I can tell you, the Republicans are not going to own it."

Trump vowed on health care that "eventually we're going to get something done, and it's going to be very good."

McConnell said of the Republican effort, "everyone has given it their best shot."

McConnell said that the events of Tuesday "have demonstrated that Republicans by themselves are not prepared at this particular point to do a replacement."

"My suspicion is there'll be hearings on the crisis that we have," he said. "We'll have to see what the way forward is."

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