WASHINGTON (CN) – After two key Republican senators announced they would not support their party’s health care bill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Monday night that the Senate will move to fully repeal the Affordable Care Act without a ready replacement.
“Regretfully, it is now apparent that the effort to repeal and immediately replace the failure of Obamacare will not be successful,” McConnell said in a statement Monday night.
McConnell said the vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act will come “in the coming days” and that, if successful, it will completely repeal the health care law with a built-in two year delay “to provide a stable transition period” to a replacement plan.
The announcement the Senate would move on to a full repeal came hours after Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Jerry Moran, R-Kan., announced in a joint statement that they would oppose the Better Care Reconciliation Act, the Republican plan to both repeal and replace Obamacare. Lee and Moran were the third and fourth senators to announce their opposition to the bill, preventing McConnell from even being able to bring it to the floor for a decisive vote.
“We must start fresh with an open legislative process to develop innovative solutions that provide greater personal choice, protections for pre-existing conditions, increased access and lower overall costs for Kansas,” Moran said in a statement.
Republican leaders had hoped to vote on the health care bill this week, but were forced to delay when Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., had surgery to remove a blood clot above his eye.
In a statement Monday night, McCain called for the Senate to “return to regular order, hold hearings, receive input from members of both parties” on new health care legislation.
It is unclear whether enough Republicans will support a complete repeal of Obamacare without a replacement. The Republican-controlled Senate passed a full repeal of Obamacare in the 2015 budget reconciliation process with only Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and former-Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., voting against the measure.
But that vote came with the assurance that then-President Barack Obama would veto the repeal bill, making the vote largely symbolic. In the months leading up to the implosion of the Republican health care plan, several GOP lawmakers said they would not support a repeal measure without a replacement ready.
After Moran and Lee’s announcement Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., renewed support for a bill he and Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., proposed last week that would redirect the money used to fund Obamacare to the states as block grants they could use for health care spending. The proposal would also repeal the individual and employer mandates while leaving most of Obamacare’s taxes as well as its protections for preexisting conditions in place.
The repeal McConnell has promised would come in the form of an amendment to the House-passed bill, meaning senators would need to vote to bring up a bill they have already said they would oppose if they wanted to pass a clean repeal.
Still, McConnell is facing pressure from within his own party to deliver on years of promising to repeal Obamacare, including from President Donald Trump, who on Monday night tweeted, “Republicans should just REPEAL failing ObamaCare now & work on a new Healthcare Plan that will start from a clean slate.”
Trump appeared to alter his suggestion slightly on Tuesday morning, when he tweeted that Republicans should “let ObamaCare fail and then come together and do a great healthcare plan.”