The White House push to approve a bill to overhaul the Obama health law suffered a major setback Monday night, as two more GOP Senators announced their opposition to the plan, effectively sending top Republicans back to the drawing board, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced he would bring up a bill in coming days that was vetoed by President Obama in early 2016, which repealed parts of the Obama health law, but did not offer a replacement.
"We should not put our stamp of approval on bad policy," said Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS), who surprised many by jointly announcing his opposition to the GOP health bill along with Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT).
"In addition to not repealing all of the Obamacare taxes, it doesn’t go far enough in lowering premiums for middle class families; nor does it create enough free space from the most costly Obamacare regulations," Lee said in his own statement.
As for what is next, Sen. McConnell announced in a statement late Monday night that he would try to bring up a measure that repeals parts of the health law - like the new taxes enacted in 2010 by Democrats - a bill that was approved by both the House and Senate, before being vetoed by Mr. Obama.
"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.
The bill that McConnell is talking about was vetoed in early 2016 by President Obama - that bill did not repeal all of the Obama health law - here are some of the highlights:
+ The bill repealed all of the new taxes enacted in 2010.
+ The GOP plan from 2015-2016 ended Medicaid expansion for the states.
+ The bill did away with federal subsidies that helped people buy health insurance.
+ The plan zeroed out the penalty for not buying insurance under the individual mandate.
+ That GOP plan did not have details on what should "replace" the Obama health law.
Basically, that GOP plan from 2015-2016 would eliminate the taxes under the Obama health law and spending associated with it, but leave the regulations of that law in place, and worry about how to fix that later on - it was often referred to as "Repeal and delay."
For some conservatives, this change in plans is not the answer.
The decision by McConnell came after weeks of trying to coax support from 50 GOP Senators on a health care bill - but the current version proved to be a bridge too far for at least four Republicans: Lee, Moran, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky.
Republicans have 52 votes in the Senate; they can lose no more than two Senators on the health care measure.
Several other GOP Senators remained publicly undecided before McConnell pulled the plug on the GOP bill - Rob Portman of Ohio, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Dean Heller of Nevada.
Earlier in the day, the White House had expressed optimism about the health care vote count, even though the GOP was still short of a majority of votes.
"We feel very confident about where we are now, and we look forward to getting that bill on the President’s desk and getting it signed," said White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.
"We're getting it together, and it's going to happen," President Trump said of the GOP health care bill.
After the Lee and Moran announcement went public, the President on Monday night shifted back to a call for a full repeal of the Obama health law.
Democrats again said it was a time for bipartisanship.
"This second failure of Trumpcare is proof positive that the core of this bill is unworkable," said Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer.
Bipartisanship also got a push from Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), home this week in Arizona with his own health troubles.
"The Congress must now return to regular order, hold hearings, receive input from members of both parties, and heed the recommendations of our nation's governors," McCain said in a written statement.