WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker Paul Ryan guaranteed a win on the Republican plan to dismantle Barack Obama’s health care law. Instead, he suffered a brutal defeat, cancelling a vote and admitting “we’re going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future.”
Friday’s painful rebuke is an ominous sign for President Donald Trump’s agenda, from taxes to infrastructure to the budget. Looming in a few weeks is the need to agree on a bill to keep the government open. After the health care debacle, Trump told Republican leaders he’s moving on.
The episode is a danger point for the relationship between Trump and Ryan, who had an awkward pairing during the campaign but worked in tandem on the GOP health measure.
“I like Speaker Ryan,” Trump said. “I think Paul really worked hard.”
Virtually every congressional Republican won election promising to repeal Obamacare. With a Republican in the White House, passage seemed almost guaranteed.
Ryan was steeped in the details, even at one point replicating for a nationwide cable news audience a detailed PowerPoint presentation he delivered to his members.
Earlier this month, he said flatly, “We’ll have 218 (votes) when this thing comes to the floor, I can guarantee you that.”
Ryan was thrust into the speaker’s chair after the stunning 2015 resignation of John Boehner, R-Ohio, and a failed bid by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. At the time, Ryan held his dream job — chairman of the powerful, tax-writing Ways and Means Committee — but took the job as the last viable option to lead a fractured House GOP.
While Ryan eased comfortably into the job, he’s not the schmoozer Boehner was, a key skill in delivering like-minded but reluctant lawmakers. He lacked the steel and seasoning of Democratic rival Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who delivered Obamacare in the first place — and that took months, not weeks.
Even before the bill went down, Pelosi was piling on, taunting Trump and, by implication, Ryan, for rushing the bill to the…