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McConnell concedes Senate health bill failed after more opposition

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. arrives

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, July 17, 2017. Credit: AP

WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said late Monday that he will push Republican colleagues to repeal the Affordable Care Act after two conservative senators announced their opposition to a GOP bill replacing President Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement.

McConnell made the announcement in a statement hours after Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) both said they couldn’t support the Republican health care bill unveiled last week.

“Regretfully, it is now apparent that the effort to repeal and immediately replace the failure of Obamacare will not be successful,” said McConnell (R-Ky.).

In the coming days, McConnell said, the Senate will consider the House-passed health care bill, with the first order of business a repeal of the Affordable Care Act with a two-year delay to replace it.

Shortly before McConnell’s statement, President Donald Trump posted a tweet recommending the same action.

“Republicans should just REPEAL failing Obamacare now & work on a new Healthcare Plan that will start from a clean slate,” Trump tweeted. “Dems will join in!”

Trump tweeted on the topic again Tuesday morning: “We were let down by all of the Democrats and a few Republicans. Most Republicans were loyal, terrific & worked really hard. We will return!”

In a second tweet, Trump said: “As I have always said, let ObamaCare fail and then come together and do a great healthcare plan. Stay tuned!”

Moran and Lee joined two other Republican senators, Susan Collins of Maine and Rand Paul of Kentucky, in opposing the legislation, meaning that McConnell lacked the votes to move ahead.

“We should not put our stamp of approval on bad policy,” Moran said in a statement late Monday night.

Moran, considered among the more conservative Republicans in the Senate, said the latest GOP bill would do nothing to trim spending.

“If we leave the federal government in control of everyday health care decisions,” Moran said, “it is more likely that our health care system will devolve into a single-payer system, which would require a massive federal spending increase.”

Fellow conservative Lee said he opposed the bill because in addition “to not repealing all of the Obamacare taxes, it doesn’t go far enough in lowering premiums for middle class families; nor does it create enough free space from the most costly Obamacare regulations.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), used his Republican colleagues’ announcement to call on the GOP to “start from scratch” and work with their Democratic colleagues.

“This second failure of Trumpcare is proof positive that the core of this bill is unworkable,” he said in a statement Monday night.

Earlier Monday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, state Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio took part in a raucous Manhattan rally opposing the bill.

Before a boisterous audience on the campus of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital, Cuomo and Schneiderman vowed to sue the federal government if the Republicans’ health care legislation became law.

“We’re going to stand up with our attorney general, our lawyer for the state of New York, and we’re going to sue the federal government,” Cuomo told the audience of local SEIU 1199 and New York State Nurses Association members.

Schneiderman called the Republican health care proposals “unconstitutional” and accused Republican lawmakers of putting “ideology ahead of evidence.”

“This week we begin the process of sending this disgusting anti-health care bill on a one-way trip to the trash heap of history,” Schneiderman said.

De Blasio, in a rare joint appearance with Cuomo, said it was “absolutely important” that those opposed to the plan stand “shoulder to shoulder” in voicing their concerns.

Trump, talking to reporters earlier at the White House before Moran and Lee announced their opposition, continued to press GOP lawmakers to pass the Senate Republican health care proposal, calling it “something that is going to be outstanding” and “far, far better than failing Obamacare.”

With Laura Figueroa, Michael Gormley and AP