It was the latest setback to the GOP’s effort to repeal and replace Obamacare, a Republican campaign promise for most of the last decade that has stalled multiple times this year amid party divisions. The GOP chose to address the health-care overhaul before it took on tax reform, another key campaign plank, and every setback is seen as delaying the party’s broader agenda.
Before Trump’s tweet, a White House official said in a statement that “inaction is not an option. We look forward to Congress continuing to work toward a bill the President can sign to end the Obamacare nightmare and restore quality care at affordable prices.”
Moving toward a vote on a repeal-only plan would require two of the four GOP senators who said they would vote “no” on the motion to proceed to change their tunes. Additionally, it remains to be seen if several other senators who were undecided on the replacement plan will get behind a repeal-only bill.
The GOP-controlled Congress passed a bill in 2015 to repeal Obamacare without a replacement, though the lawmakers cast their votes knowing that the bill would face a presidential veto from then-President Barack Obama.
The Senate voted by a 52-47 margin to only repeal Obamacare in 2015. Many of the current health-care swing votes supported the bill. GOP Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, a strong opponent of the latest Obamacare replacement bill, voted against it.
In 2015, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that repealing Obamacare would lead to 30 million to 32 million more Americans uninsured.
After the Senate’s initial struggles to reach a health-care consensus in June, Trump and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., both publicly floated the prospect of repealing Obamacare without a replacement plan.