Republican party’s promise to repeal and replace Obamacare lies in ruins

John McCain splits with most Republican senators and seals the fate of so-called ‘skinny repeal’ bill

The Republican party’s promise to repeal and replace Obamacare lay in ruins on Friday, after the senate failed to back a repeal-bill designed to replace the Affordable Care Act.

After a dramatic night in the senate, Senator John McCain cast the final vote in the early hours of Friday morning, withdrawing his support for the bill despite a last-minute intervention by vice president Mike Pence. Two other senators – Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowsi of Alaska – also voted against.

The decision by Mr McCain to split with most of the Republican senators sealed the fate of the so-called “skinny repeal” bill, essentially a scaled-down version of Obamacare which would have removed the individual and employer mandates.

President Trump tweeted in the early hours of Friday morning: “3 Republicans and 48 Democrats let the American people down. As I said from the beginning, let ObamaCare implode, then deal. Watch!”


After seven years of berating Obamacare, Republicans have failed to unite behind a plan to repeal and replace Mr Obama’s signature policy, despite controlling the levers of power in Washington.

Bipartisan approach

While Democrats welcomed the news, the collapse of the appeal ban has prompted calls for a bipartisan approach to reforming the healthcare system to now be pursued, though Republicans may instead now turn to other legislative priorities such as tax reform.

Meanwhile tensions within the White House were laid bare following the publication of a rant by newly-appointed communications director Anthony Scaramucci directed at White House chief of staff Reince Priebus.

Ryan Lizza, a reporter with the New Yorker, released details of a conversation he had with Mr Scaramucci on Wednesday, after the communications director phoned him.

"Reince is a f***ing paranoid schizophrenic, a paranoiac," Mr Scaramucci said, according to Mr Lizza's account of the conversation. The former hedge fund manager also spoke in crude terms about Steve Bannon, Mr Trump's senior advisor.

Mr Scaramucci responded on Twitter. “I sometimes use colorful language,” he said. “I will refrain in this arena but not give up the passionate fight for @RealDonaldTrump’s agenda.”

The conversation between the White House's chief communications official and the New Yorker journalist took place after Mr Lizza tweeted on Wednesday that President Donald Trump was having dinner with Mr Scaramucci, Fox News presenter Sean Hannity, and an ex- Fox News executive Bill Shine in the White House.

Mr Scaramucci then phoned Mr Lizza to demand who his source was, according to Mr Lizza’s account of the event.

Leak accusation

Scaramucci appeared to accuse the president’s chief of staff, Reince Preibus, of leaking to the media.  Mr Scaramucci suggested in another tweet – which was later deleted – that his colleague may have leaked a document outlining his financial disclosures.

Mr Scaramucci called in to a CNN morning show on Thursday, where he spoke live on air for 30 minutes. "We have had odds. We have had differences," Mr Scaramucci said of Mr Priebus. "When I said we were brothers from the podium, that's because we're rough on each other. Some brothers are like Cain and Abel. Other brothers can fight with each other and get along. I don't know if this is reparable or not. That will be up to the president."

Asked during Thursday's White House press briefing whether the president still had confidence in his chief of staff, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders replied: "We all serve at the pleasure of the president."

“This is a White House that has a lot of different perspectives because the president hires the very best people . . . unlike previous administrations, this isn’t group think.”

Mr Scaramucci, a 53-year-old financier from Long Island, was appointed as White House communications director by Mr Trump a week ago, prompting the resignation of Sean Spicer as press secretary. Mr Spicer was seen as an ally of Mr Priebus – both worked together at the Republican National Committee before Mr Trump's election victory.

Suzanne Lynch

Suzanne Lynch

Suzanne Lynch, a former Irish Times journalist, was Washington correspondent and, before that, Europe correspondent