President Donald Trump said Friday that the failure of the House GOP’s long-awaited Obamacare repeal bill, which he himself backed “100 percent,” was the fault of Democrats.
“We were very close; it was a very, very tight margin,” he said. “We had no Democrat support. We had no votes from the Democrats. They weren’t going to give us a single vote, so it’s a very difficult thing to do.”
Trump’s comments glossed over the fact that Republicans currently control both houses of Congress and the White House, leaving them plenty of leeway to craft and push through a health care bill via reconciliation.
The President appeared defiant in a short remarks to the press pool in the Oval Office, where he was flanked by Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and Vice President Mike Pence.
Thanking both men and as well as GOP leadership for their efforts to write the legislation and to gin up votes for it, Trump predicted that Obamacare will “explode” “soon” and that Democrats will be held accountable for that failure. He first announced that he would use this strategy in the event of the bill’s failure in a closed-door meeting with conservatives earlier this month.
“What would be really good with no Democrat support if the Democrats, when it will explode [sic], which it will soon, if they got together with us and did a real health care bill,” he said. “I would be totally open to it. And I think that’s going to happen. And I think the losers are Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer because now they own Obamacare. They own it, 100 percent own it.”
In a press briefing shortly before Trump made his remarks, Pelosi, the House minority leader, celebrated the preservation of the Affordable Care Act, a signature achievement of hers and former President Barack Obama’s.
The President also falsely claimed that he’d never vowed to do away with the law as soon as he took office, which was one of his core campaign promises.
“I’m here 64 days, I never said repeal and replace Obamacare—you’ve all heard my speeches. I never said repeal and replace it within 64 days,” Trump said. “I have a long time.”
Last February, Trump pledged he would “immediately” get rid of the law, and he repeated that pledge dozens of times during the election.
We will immediately repeal and replace ObamaCare – and nobody can do that like me. We will save $’s and have much better healthcare!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 9, 2016
He said an “even better bill” would come down in the near future, though he wants to focus on other issues like cutting taxes for the time being.
One benefit of the failed repeal process, Trump said, was that he “learned a lot” about how legislation gets pushed through.
“We all learned a lot,” he reminisced. “We learned a lot about loyalty. We learned a lot about the vote getting processed. We learned a lot about some very arcane rules in, obviously, both the Senate and in the House. So it’s been certainly for me, a very interesting experience.”