President Trump and congressional Republicans suffered a dramatic failure early Friday in their bid to advance a scaled-back plan to overhaul the Affordable Care Act, raising the prospect of emergency bipartisan talks to shore up the existing health-care system.
But in the wake of the vote, it remained unclear how swiftly lawmakers would move to shore up the federal health-care exchange, and whether the White House would join in that effort.
Equally uncertain was whether Republicans and Democrats, who hold starkly contrasting views on health care, would be willing or able to put aside their differences to collaborate at a moment of sharp polarization.
Republicans faced a moment of reckoning after failing to fulfill their signature promise of the last seven years. The defeat threatened to cause deeper divisions in a party that has been unable to show a major legislative accomplishment this year despite controlling Congress and the White House.
The individual insurance market has deteriorated in recent months as Republicans have struggled to craft a replacement for the 2010 law, and early Friday morning President Trump reiterated his intention to see the system collapse.
“3 Republicans and 48 Democrats let the American people down. As I said from the beginning, let ObamaCare implode, then deal. Watch!” he tweeted.
In a dramatic showdown on the Senate floor, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) stunned his colleagues by joining two other Republicans to reject the latest attempt to rewrite the ACA. The Arizona Republican, diagnosed with brain cancer last week, returned to Washington on Tuesday and delivered a stirring address calling for a bipartisan approach to overhauling the 2010 health-care law, while criticizing the process that produced the current legislation.
It was a speech that laid the groundwork for Friday’s dramatic vote.
The GOP bill was voted down 51 to 49 — all 48…