UPDATED with Trump news conference. President Donald Trump blamed Democrats for the major blow to his new administration, after he failed to secure enough votes to get his Trumpcare bill past the House.
“We were very close … and had no Democratic support,” Trump said at an Oval Office address held not long after deciding to pull the bill from a vote for the second and final time.
“They weren’t going to give us a single vote,” Trump said, seated at his desk ad flanked with Health Secretary Tom Price and Vice President Mike Pence.
“I have been saying for last year and a half that best thing we can do, politically speaking, is let Obamacare explode. … It’s exploding and soon will explode,” he said, seeming to take consolation in the thought. “Almost all states have big problems,” he said, forecasting Obamacare is “going to have a bad year.”
“What would be very good … if the Democrats, when [Obamacare] explodes, which it will soon, if they got together with us and got a real health care bill. I’d be totally open to it. And I think that’s going to happen,” Trump said, making news there.
He said there were elements of the Trumpcare bill he did not like and that he believes the country will wind up with a “better bill” when Dems negotiate with Republicans after Obamacare “implodes” for a while. “you know, both parties can get together and do real health care. That’s the best thing,” he said.
Trump insisted he had not said “repeal and replace Obamacare in 64 days” in his speeches, which might come as a surprise to those who watched rally speeches in which he boasted of plans to do it on “Day 1” of his administration if elected.
The real losers today, Trump insisted, are House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
“Now they own Obamacare. They own it — 100% own it,” Trump bristled. That might come as a surprise to Dems, who had owned it the past seven years.
Having made his point that Obamacare “is not a Republican health care, not anything but a Democratic health care,” Trump said that when “they all become civilized and get together, and try and work out a great health care bill for the people of this country, we’re totally open to it,” which may have surprised the Republicans in the room.
Trump called the past few weeks “an interesting period of time,” explaining, “We learned a lot about loyalty and the vote-getting process, and some very arcane rules in the Senate and the House.”
Presumably by “we” he meant “Donald Trump,” given that others in the room are veterans of this stuff.
Asked what’s next on his agenda, Trump said he’s moving on to tax reform.
PREVIOUSLY: President Donald Trump suffered his first White House setback today when the Trumpcare vote got yanked rather than suffer what seemed destined to be a stunning spanking with the plan failing to secure the needed 216 House votes.
“Obamacare is the law of land and remains until its replaced,” House Speaker said at a presser held not longer after the bill was pulled. “We’re going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future. I don’t know how long it’s going to take us to replace this law.”
“Being against things is easy to do – you just have to be against it,” Ryan said. What Republicans could not agree on, despite having been opposed to Obamacare for seven years, was how to replace it, he explained.
He tried to paint the defeat with the brightest colors possible, calling it part of the GOP’s “growing pains” as it transitioned from minority party to guys in charge of the House, Senate and White House.
On the flip side, House minority leader Nancy Pelosi was beaming at her press conference, calling the decision to pull the bill a “victory for the American people – for our seniors, for people with disabilities, for our children, for our veterans. It’s not just about the 24 million who won’t lose their health insurance under Trumpcare, she said.
“It’s about the 155 million who receive their health benefits in the workplace who not be assaulted by some of the provisions that the Republicans put in the bill, especially last night when they removed the essential benefits package,” she enthused.
News the bill had been pull did not come as a staggering surprise, even for a president who had promised his followers they were going to get “sick of winning,” given Trump’s early morning blame-game shot via Twitter, and White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s laying-the-groundwork Pre-Defeat briefing.
At that briefing, Spicer chided reporters for their “so negative” questions about “what if the bill fails.” Even so, Spicer declined, when asked, to say Trump was confident the Trumpcare bill would pass in the House, saying instead he was confident Trump did every he could to make his case.
“But, at the end of the day, this isn’t a dictatorship,” Spicer reminded reporters, adding, ” and we’ve got to expect members to ultimately vote how they will.”
“The president made clear…they’re the ones who have to go back and answer to their constituents why they did not fulfill a pledge that they made” to repeal and replace Obamacare, Spicer said.
Thursday afternoon Trump had called for an end to negotiations, saying he’d made his last best offer to conservative Republicans in the House who were still in the “No” camp. Trump indicated if this version of Trumpcare was not passed by the House, he would move on to tax reform and let the GOP live with Obamacare for the duration of this Congress.
It marks the second time the Trumpcare vote had been pulled in two days. On Thursday, House Speaker Paul Ryan pulled the vote after Trump failed to close a deal Thursday morning with House Freedom Caucus conservatives. That scuttled Trump’s dreams of having the Trumpcare vote on the seventh anniversary of the signing of Obamacare.
Trump set the stage early Friday morning for the scene that would follow, tweeting: