US: Obamacare to stay as Donald Trump administration withdraws unpopular healthcare Bill
This marks the first major legislative defeat for the president and indicates deep fissures within the Republican party, commentators said.
United States President Donald Trump suffered a crushing blow on Friday as the House Republicans on Friday abruptly withdrew the new healthcare Bill prepared by his administration, which sought to replace the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) brought in by his Democratic predecessor Barack Obama. This marks the first major legislative defeat for Trump, after the American Health Care Act failed to get support on the Bill from several Republicans, who form the majority in the House.
“We’re going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future,” said Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, the main architect of the Bill after it was pulled without a vote. He added that the party “came really close today, but came up short.” Trump later claimed, “We couldn’t get one Democratic vote. It’s going to be a very bad year. Obamacare unfortunately will explode.” However, the Democrats had always been unanimously opposed to the bill, considered Obama’s magnum opus legislation, and could not have affected its passing as they are the minority in the house.
The vote had been scheduled for Thursday but was postponed after hours of discussions with the GOP failed to secure the Republican legislators’ confidence. US President Donald Trump had given party lawmakers the ultimatum to either vote for the Bill or Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, which Republicans have been trying to have repealed since it was implemented, will remain.
Repealing and replacing Obamacare was considered one of Trump’s major poll promises. However, the alternative presented by Ryan would have left millions uninsured, increased premiums for the poor while favouring the rich and make it much harder for older and sicker citizens to receive reasonably priced care. While the Democrats had been criticising it on these fronts, hardline Republicans claimed the Bill is still too close to Obamacare. Moderate Republicans, on the other hand, believed the loss of benefits would be received poorly in their constituencies.
Commentators see the developments as a sign of the deep divisions within the Republican party. Trump’s campaign has been marked with controversies and setbacks, with his travel ban targeting Muslim-majority nations being repeatedly blocked by courts and investigations into his team’s dealings with Russia gaining ground. Moreover, it raises questions on whether the Trump administration will be able make good on its other headline poll planks, including tax cuts.