Reversing course in the face of strong pushback from his own party’s leaders in Congress, President Trump this week backed off his earlier pledge to deliver a Republican healthcare plan to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
After the Department of Justice switched positions on the Texas court case testing the constitutionality of the ACA, urging the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to invalidate the 2010 law entirely, Trump doubled down by declaring that Republicans would be known as the “party of healthcare”, going so far as to tap four GOP senators to craft a replacement bill.
However, the White House received a rare rebuke from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who said this week that in private discussions with the President, “I made it clear to him that we’re not going to be doing that in the Senate.” In tweets and a subsequent speech, Trump signaled his frustration with Congressional Republicans on the issue (“We blew it the last time. Man, I was fed a bill of goods.”), vowing to return to the issue after the 2020 elections.
By highlighting GOP divisions on the issue, this week’s public dust-up and Presidential about-face all but guarantee that healthcare will be a marquee issue in the upcoming elections, allowing Democrats to campaign on an issue that proved a strong suit for them in the 2018 midterms. Expect the politics of healthcare to remain front and center in the months to come.