In a stinging blow to President Donald Trump, US Senate Republicans failed spectacularly on Friday to dismantle Obamacare.
Voting in the early hours, three Republican senators, John McCain, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, crossed party lines to join Democrats in a dramatic 49-to-51 vote to reject a “skinny repeal” bill that would have killed some parts of Obamacare.
“This is clearly a disappointing moment,” Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said on an eerily quiet Senate floor right after the vote. “The American people are going to regret that we couldn’t find a better way forward.”
The setback leaves Trump without a major legislative win after reaching the White House more than six months ago. It will also be a let-down for financial markets, which expected Trump to make rapid changes to healthcare, taxes and infrastructure spending.
“3 Republicans and 48 Democrats let the American people down. As I said from the beginning, let Obamacare implode, then deal. Watch!” Trump tweeted after the vote.
The Affordable Care Act, approved by Democrats in 2010, is former Democratic President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement. It provided health insurance to millions of previously uninsured Americans.
Republicans released the skinny bill just three hours before voting began. It would have retroactively repealed the Obamacare penalty on individuals who do not purchase health insurance, repealed for eight years a penalty on certain employers who do not provide employees with insurance and repealed a medical device tax until 2020.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that if it became law, 15 million fewer Americans would be insured in 2018 than under existing law.