Collapse of Republicans’ Obamacare Repeal Raises Doubts About Other Aspects of Their Agenda

House Republicans abandoned their efforts to repeal and partially replace Obamacare after President Donald Trump and Speaker Paul Ryan couldn’t wrangle enough votes, raising doubts about their ability to deliver on the rest of their agenda.

Trump and Ryan together own the defeat of this health-care bill. Both had pledged to deliver on a seven-year GOP promise to undo the Affordable Care Act. Ryan struggled to win over his conference, but it was the do-or-die ultimatum that Trump delivered to House Republicans that forced the speaker to try to hold a vote before he knew he could win.

“I will not sugarcoat this: This is a disappointing day for us,” Ryan told reporters Friday. “But it is not the end of the story.”

Neither Ryan nor Trump could ultimately win over rebellious party conservatives or moderates unnerved about the bill’s potential effects.

Trump told reporters in the Oval Office that the GOP was perhaps 10 votes short. “We’ll end up with a truly great health-care bill after the Obamacare mess explodes,” he said.

Ryan said the party will need some time to regroup. “Now, we’re going to move on with the rest of our agenda,” he said. “We will proceed with tax reform.”

Hospital Stocks Surge

Hospital stocks surged on the news of the cancellation, with the BI North America Hospitals Competitive Peer Group up 5.4 percent at the close in New York. Centene Corp., an insurer that focuses on Medicaid plans, rose 5.2 percent to $68.73. Hospitals and insurers like Centene would have been hurt by the GOP bill, which would cut millions of people from health insurance and roll back an expansion of the Medicaid program for the poor.

Lawmakers sounded ready to turn their attention to other issues.

House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady of Texas said in a statement that Republicans on his panel “are moving full speed ahead with President Trump on the first pro-growth tax reform in a generation.”

“I think that this is a learning lesson and we’ve made this shift from an opposition party to a governing party, and I hope that we do learn from this experience and that we are able to not make the perfect the enemy of the good,” said Andy Barr, a Kentucky Republican. “Because this is not a game.”

But the episode demonstrated that the Republicans’ long-awaited unified control of Congress and the White House doesn’t translate easily into unity of purpose.

In public, Trump praised Ryan’s work and Ryan thanked Trump for his efforts. Behind the scenes, though, the president’s aides blame Ryan for the bill’s embarrassing defeat, which stymied a top Republican goal, a senior administration official said.

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SOURCE: Billy House and Steven T. Dennis