President Trump on Tuesday said he was disappointed in the Senate’s failure to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act and argued that Republicans should now let the law fail on its own.
In his first on-camera remarks about the stalemate in the Senate, Trump said it “will be a lot easier” to allow ObamaCare to falter on its own.
“I think we’re probably in that position where we’ll let ObamaCare fail,” he told reporters in the Roosevelt Room. “We’re not going to own it. I’m not going to own it. I can tell you the Republicans are not going to own it. We’ll let ObamaCare fail and then the Democrats are going to come to us.”
Venting his frustration with Congress, Trump talked of how he had heard lawmakers for seven years talk about the need to repeal and replace ObamaCare.
Given the chance to do so, “they don’t take advantage of it,” he said.
“I’m sitting in the Oval Office right next door, pen in hand, waiting to sign something,” Trump added.
Despite the defeat on healthcare reform, Trump cast his presidency as a string of victories, saying the United States was winning in the war of terrorism and that it would secure an overhaul of the tax code.
Congress has not moved forward with Trump’s tax reform agenda so far, largely because of the time spent working on healthcare reform.
Trump promised to win repeal of ObamaCare upon his election, and the defeat is a significant loss for the White House.
Legislation to repeal and replace ObamaCare was approved by the House in May and was celebrated in a Rose Garden ceremony by Trump.
But it has come to a complete standstill in the Senate, where GOP leaders do not even have the votes to bring legislation repealing ObamaCare to the floor.
While Trump took a shot at Congress, he said he does not blame Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for the defection of two Republican senators that effectively killed the measure.
Trump said he was “very surprised” that conservative Sens. Jerry Moran(Kan.) and Mike Lee (Utah) came out against the bill, evidence of the disconnect between the White House and Capitol Hill that has helped stymie the president’s agenda.
The White House and its allies have periodically lashed out at GOP opponents of the healthcare measure, reportedly threatening to back a primary challenge of Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake and to run attack ads against Nevada Sen. Dean Heller, both of whom are up for reelection next year.
But Trump said Tuesday the key to advancing his priorities was expanding the GOP’s 52-seat majority in the Senate.
“We’re going to have to go out and get more Republicans elected in ’18,” he said. “I’ll be working very hard for that to happen. It would be nice to get Democrat support but really they are obstructionists. They have no ideas.”
Some Republicans, however, believe the president is at fault. They say he failed to master the details of the healthcare initiative, did little to sell it and sent mixed messages about his desired outcome.
That was on display in the past 24 hours. Trump on Monday night called on the Senate to repeal ObamaCare and then pass a replacement later.
“Republicans should just REPEAL failing ObamaCare now & work on a new Healthcare Plan that will start from a clean slate. Dems will join in!”
But on Tuesday morning, he tweeted out a completely different proposal — letting former President Obama’s law fail on its own.
“As I have always said, let ObamaCare fail and then come together and do a great healthcare plan. Stay tuned!” he wrote.