Several GOP lawmakers have expressed doubt that their majority in Congress can repeal the Obama administration's Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare. The GOP-majority Senate spent the majority of its 2017 calendar on two unsuccessful bids to replace the health care law.
On Oct. 9, several congressional Republicans said for the first time that it was possible that the ACA would remain intact for the foreseeable future. The GOP lawmakers asserted that they all wanted to uproot the health care law but were growing skeptical that they could corral enough votes for repeal, Politico reports.
"Personally, I don't," said GOP Rep. Phil Roe of Tennessee when asked if he could envision a successful ACA repeal. "I just don't know how you can reconcile a bill you've taken two whiffs at already and couldn't get the votes."
GOP Rep. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota asserted that the ACA's chances of survival were "50-50."
On Sept. 26, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that his chamber would not hold a vote on Graham-Cassidy, a final effort to repeal and replace the ACA within the 2017. Republicans wanted to pass an ACA repeal through budget reconciliation, a congressional procedure that would have bypassed a Democratic filibuster, but their legal ability to take that path expired on Sept. 30, The New York Times reports.
"We haven't given up on changing the American health care system," McConnell said. "We are not going to be able to do that this week, but it still lies ahead of us, and we haven't given up on that."
While McConnell and other Republican leaders pledged to continue their efforts to repeal the ACA, several GOP lawmakers are skeptical that another replacement bill could avoid the same fate as Graham-Cassidy.
"Anytime you fumble twice, there's the anticipation that you'll fumble for the third time," said GOP Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina.
"I would bet a substantial part of [ACA] is there 10 years from now," said a Senate Republican who requested anonymity.
President Donald Trump has signaled that he would be willing to work with Democrats on health care if GOP lawmakers do not repeal the ACA in short order. On Oct. 7, Trump told reporters at the White House that he had personally discussed health care legislation with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
"Well, if we could make a deal, at least on a temporary basis ... I think would be a great thing for people," Trump said, according to CNN. "But it's really up to them."
The president added that any bipartisan deal on health care would have to ultimately result in a repeal of the ACA, but Schumer said in a statement that uprooting the health care law was "off the table."