The US Senate failed to back a stripped-down bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, with 49 senators voting for the proposed legislation and 51 against. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had pitched the so-called "skinny repeal bill" in recent days, with Republican party leaders calling it the only remaining option after abandoning hope for legislation that would repeal and replace the health care law simultaneously.
"I regret that our efforts were simply not enough, this time," McConnell said, adding "this is clearly a disappointing moment." McConnell remarked "it's time to move on," after pulling the bill from the floor. The legislation required 50 votes to advance, but was opposed by all 48 Democrats and three Republicans, including Senator John McCain.
"We must now return to the correct way of legislating and send the bill back to committee, hold hearings, receive input from both sides of aisle, heed the recommendations of nation's governors, and produce a bill that finally delivers affordable health care for the American people," McCain said.
In response to the vote, President Donald Trump criticised the outcome, claiming "3 Republicans and 48 Democrats let the American people down, As I said from the beginning, let ObamaCare implode, then deal."
Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer expressed relief at the vote, noting that millions will now retain their healthcare. "We are not celebrating. We're relieved," Schumer commented, calling for a bipartisan debate on how to fix Obamacare. "Let's turn the page and work together to improve our health care system," Schumer said.
The proposed skinny repeal bill was set to end the requirement that individuals buy health insurance, and suspend through 2026 the requirement that companies provide it for their workers. The legislation also sought to extend a moratorium on the tax on medical-device makers through 2020 and increases the amount that individuals can contribute to health-savings accounts.
The latest vote comes after proposed legislation to repeal major parts of the Affordable Healthcare Act, with a two-year implementation delay to give lawmakers time to craft a replacement bill, failed to secure the minimum 51 votes in order to pass in the US Senate on July 26. Earlier this week, the Senate narrowly voted in favour of proceeding with debate on various proposals and amendments to overhaul the current healthcare law.