Two more Republicans declare their opposition to reforms to Obamacare, meaning the party has lost the Senate majority on the issue.
The latest in a series of blows for US President Donald Trump and the Republicans (GOP) has come from their own side.
Plans to overhaul a healthcare system put in place by former leader Barack Obama have hit a stumbling block after two further senators declared they opposed the proposal as it stands.
“Mike Lee”: https://www.lee.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=press-releases&id=988195A6-7C42-4878-A59F-3FA344D170C9 and “Jerry Moran”: https://twitter.com/JerryMoran/status/887107873909739524 join Rand Paul and Susan Collins in refusing to back the bill, which suggests changes to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), but not the outright repeal Trump has been promising since his election campaign.
Lee and Moran say the proposal does not go far enough in abolishing the system, which has been nicknamed Obamacare.
“We should not put our stamp of approval on bad policy,” said Moran, who is an ally of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Lee, a staunch conservative, added:
“In addition to not repealing all of the Obamacare taxes, [the bill] 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.”
Four Republicans have now said they oppose the suggested amendments, meaning the party no longer has enough votes to pass the legislation.
Trump has taken to Twitter to demand a full-out repeal of the “failing ObamaCare now and work on a new Healthcare Plan that will start from a clean slate.”
Republicans should just REPEAL failing ObamaCare now & work on a new Healthcare Plan that will start from a clean slate. Dems will join in!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 18, 2017
McConnell has announced he plans to push for a vote in the coming days regardless of the latest developments. However, it comes with an obstacle: the ballot will be to repeal Obamacare, but not immediately. Instead there would be a two-year delay “to provide for a stable transition period to a patient-centered health care system that gives Americans access to quality, affordable care.”
— Leader McConnell (@SenateMajLdr) July 18, 2017
Analysts predict this will have little chance of passing as millions would be left without health cover in the interim period.
Action on the healthcare bill had been delayed until Senator John McCain’s return. He is recovering from an operation to remove a blood clot above his left eye. McConnell had hoped to be able to persuade McCain to vote in favour of the bill, however that seems to have been futile. The senator tweeted from his home in Arizona to call for a fresh, bipartisan start.
Democrats have said they will work in a bipartisan way to improve Obamacare, but will not cooperate to repeal it.
The GOP holds the Senate majority, with 52 of 100 seats. The Democrats are in control of 46 seats and two are held by independents. All the Democrats and independents are expected to also vote against the proposals.
Protests have taken place and a number of arrests made in Washington, as people gathered to call for the new healthcare plan to be scrapped.
In a poll published on Sunday (July 16), Americans voted by two-to-one in favour of Obamacare.