On ObamaCare Repeal, Trump 'Played Chicken, Then Blinked'
He failed in first confrontation with lawmakers
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 25, 2017 7:39 AM CDT
House Speaker Paul Ryan, announces that he is abruptly pulling the troubled Republican health care overhaul bill off the House floor.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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(Newser) – It was a stinging defeat by any measure: The ObamaCare "repeal and replace" bill that President Trump championed was declared DOA Friday after a House vote was canceled at the last minute. Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan had been unable to persuade enough House Republicans to change their minds on the American Health Care Act. The AP reports that the demise of the American Health Care Act, and the damage to Trump's presidency, had Democrats "literally jumping for joy," with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi doing a victory leap outside the Capitol. A roundup of coverage:

  • The White House has been blaming Democrats and Ryan for the defeat, but the buck stops with Trump, who promised during his campaign that his skill as a dealmaker would change Washington, but then played chicken with House Republicans and blinked at the last minute, writes Chris Cillizza at the Washington Post. "Trump wanted this deal, pushed for this deal, called his own party's bluff on this deal and then walked away when it appeared as though the deal wouldn't come together," he writes.
  • Politico looks back at mistakes made on the road to the failure of the AHCA, including Trump's lukewarm attitude to the legislation after it was first introduced.

  • The New York Times reports that Trump was furious at lunchtime Friday when Ryan arrived at the White House to tell him the AHCA could not pass. Trump demanded the vote go ahead, broadcast live on TV, but Ryan argued that broadcasting the bill's defeat would damage Republicans who supported the bill as well as opponents. By midafternoon, Trump agreed to pull the bill, insiders say—and though he remained furious at the House Freedom Caucus, he did not criticize them publicly.
  • The Hill lists winners and losers from the AHCA battle, with Trump and Ryan topping the list of losers. The winners include Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama, while the verdict is mixed for the House Freedom Caucus: The hardline conservatives demonstrated their power, but they also defied a Republican president popular with grassroots voters, and preserved a law those voters hate.
  • Politico describes Trump as "overmatched, outmaneuvered, and empty-handed" after his first confrontation with rebellious lawmakers. His ability to work with congressional Republicans to implement other parts of his agenda is now in doubt. The GOP "is still operating as an opposition party," says Josh Holmes, a former chief of staff to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. "If they can't break the fever ... it says an enormous amount about the prospects of tax reform, infrastructure and some sort of immigration proposal," he says.
  • The Guardian looks at the GOP's failure to build a consensus on healthcare after conservatives decided the AHCA didn't go far enough and moderates were alarmed by predictions that 24 million people would lose coverage. The House GOP didn't spend much time "talking about a unified Republican vision for what we should do with healthcare in the House," admits Rep. Mark Amodei.
  • Plenty of other presidents have gotten off to rocky starts, though analysts say Trump is being hurt by an apparent lack of understanding of exactly how government works, the AP reports. "You can't just come in and steamroll everybody," says Bruce Miroff, a politics professor at the State University of New York at Albany. "Most people have a modest understanding of how complicated the presidency is. They think leadership is giving orders and being bold. But the federal government is much more complicated, above all because the Constitution set it up that way."

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