GOP blame-a-thon over health bill crash, but no clear path

Unable to pass even a so-called “skinny repeal,” it was unclear if Senate Republicans could advance any health bill despite seven years of promises to repeal “Obamacare.”

WASHINGTON (AP) — The resounding Senate crash of the seven-year Republican drive to scrap the Obama health care law incited GOP finger-pointing Friday but left the party with wounded leaders and no evident pathway forward on an issue that won’t go away.

In an astonishing cliff-hanger, the GOP-run Senate voted 51-49 to reject Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s last ditch attempt to sustain their drive to dismantle President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul with a starkly trimmed-down bill. The vote, which concluded shortly before 2 a.m. EDT, was a blistering defeat for President Donald Trump and McConnell, R-Ky., who’ve made uprooting the statute a top priority.

“They should have approved health care last night,” Trump said Friday during a speech in Brentwood, New York. “But you can’t have everything,” he added, seemingly shrugging off one of his biggest legislative setbacks.

Trump reiterated his threat to “let Obamacare implode,” an outcome he could hasten by steps like halting federal payments to help insurers reduce out-of-pocket costs for lower-earning consumers.

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Senate Democrats were joined in opposition by three Republicans — Maine’s Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Arizona’s John McCain. The 80-year-old McCain, just diagnosed with brain cancer, had returned to the Capitol three days earlier to provide a vote that temporarily kept the measure alive, only to deliver the coup de grace Friday.

“3 Republicans and 48 Democrats let the American people down,” Trump tweeted Friday. He tweeted later that the Senate needed a rules change to “immediately go to a 51 vote majority, not senseless 60,” even though on the crucial vote a simple majority of 51 votes, including a tie-breaker by Vice President Mike Pence, was all that was needed.

“Hello, he only needed 51 in the health care bill and couldn’t do it,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., helpfully reminded reporters.

Earlier in the week, Republican defections sank two broad GOP efforts to scrap the 2010 law. One would have erased Obama’s statute and replaced it with a more constricted government health care role, and the other would have annulled the law and given…

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