Health care reform in the Republican-controlled Congress appears to possibly, maybe, perhaps be off the table for the time being in Washington, D.C.
The end to monthslong debate, first among the U.S. House, then among the Senate, came after a bill with relatively minor tinkering to the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) failed to reach the 50 votes needed for passage in the Senate.
Three Republicans, 46 Democrats and two Independents voted against "the skinny repeal" bill.
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Despite the failure of the seven-years-in-waiting "repeal and replace" vow by Republicans, Democrats are still bracing for more attempts later this year. Their cautiousness can be found in reaction by local Democratic senators after the vote. Here are statements by senators from Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.
Bob Menendez, D-N.J.:
"Tonight, millions of American families who rely on the affordable health coverage provided under the ACA can breathe a sigh of relief. And tonight, the hundreds of thousands of Americans who stood up, spoke out and demanded that politics be put aside should know that their power – the power of the people – proved stronger than the people in power. Tonight confirms the only way forward is to work together on behalf of all Americans. So, tomorrow, let’s get to work."
Tom Carper, D-Del.:
"In the words of Senator Schumer this evening, it’s time to turn the page. Tonight, we have the opportunity to change course and return to regular order, just as Senator McCain called for us to do when he returned to the Senate earlier this week. In the days ahead, we must immediately focus on stabilizing the exchanges. But then, we should fix the parts of the Affordable Care Act that need to be fixed and preserve the parts that should be preserved. We don’t need a Democratic victory, a Republican victory or a Trump victory. We need a victory for the American people. It’s now up to us – every single one of us – to prove to our constituents that we can do it. It’s what they expect from us and, more important, it’s what they deserve. Let’s get to work.”
Pat Toomey, R-Pa.:
"I am disappointed with this setback on efforts to fix our broken health care system. For the hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians suffering from the higher costs and fewer choices caused by Obamacare’s collapse, Congress must not give up on repealing and replacing the failed health care law."
Cory Booker, D-N.J.:
"Tonight is a victory for the millions of Americans who will not lose health coverage because Senate Republicans failed to pass their latest disgraceful attempt at a health repeal bill. This is also a victory for the thousands upon thousands of Americans across the country who rallied, marched, and called their Senator to demand the right to affordable, quality health care. Your voices were heard. Tonight’s failed vote is a testament to your power – the power of the people, which we all know is greater than the people in power. In the United States, it shouldn’t matter how much money you make or where you live – you should have access to quality, affordable health care, because health care is a human right. The fight isn’t over. Republicans in both chambers have made it clear they’ll stop at nothing to enact their dangerous agenda. If we don’t stop them, they'll strip health coverage from millions of Americans, raise premiums, and gut protections for people with pre-existing conditions. We must remain vigilant and continue speaking up and out against those who would prefer to play politics with the nation’s health care system rather than earnestly work to improve it."
Bob Casey, D-Pa.:
“The Senate Republican scheme was a terrible bill for the middle class and that’s why it was rejected on a bipartisan basis. It’s now time for Democrats and Republicans to work together on common sense solutions that will make our health care system more affordable and bring down costs for families. I commend Senator McCain for his courageous vote.”