Friday afternoon, after a dramatic capitulation, House Speaker Paul Ryan walked out before the press and conceded defeat on what had been his party’s primary concern for the last seven years.
“Obamacare is the law of the land,” Ryan said. “We’re going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future.”
It was stunning. Even though the president insisted on Thursday that there would be a vote Friday, he called the Washington Post
one minute after the floor debate was scheduled to end and said: “We couldn’t get one Democratic vote, and we were a little bit shy, very little, but it was still a little bit shy, so we pulled it.”
For someone as vain as Trump, who has prided himself on The Art of the Deal
, that must have been a blow. But that was nothing compared to what was coming to the Republicans in Congress when Ryan had to tell them that they were moving on from health care.
“Now we're going to move on with our agenda because we have big, ambitious plans" Ryan told the press.
Hole. Lee. Shit.
They’ve been talking about this forever. They control the entire government and they back off of repealing Obamacare barely two months in.
“Moving from an opposition party to a governing party comes with growing pains,” Ryan confessed, looking even more like a recently spanked Eddie Munster than normal. But neither he nor the president would publicly cast blame on the other—although neither has achieved anything of legislative significance yet.
“The president gave his all,” Ryan said.
“I don’t blame Paul. He worked very hard on this,” Trump told the Post
Ryan also said he did not want to blame the Freedom Caucus, but made it clear that they had problems with the bill. The alt-right wing of the party that supports the president hates Paul Ryan and called the bill Obamacare 2.0.
But Trump wanted to blame the Democrats.
“We couldn’t get one Democrat vote, not one. So that means they own Obamacare and when that explodes, they will come to us wanting to save whatever is left, and we’ll make a real deal,” Trump said.
The Democratic leaders of the House, who gave a press conference immediately after Ryan’s, were happy to own it. "We owned it yesterday and the day before and in November," said minority whip Steny Hoyer.
“Today’s a great day for our country,” minority leader Nancy Pelosi said. “It’s a victory.”
Ryan denied that the defeat would hurt the Republicans’ other legislative efforts, but the Democrats, who only days ago seemed demoralized and defeated, are certainly feeling the momentum and may be encouraged to actually fight against bills that may have previously seemed inevitable.
When asked if she would have imagined on November 9 that Republicans would have abandoned health care by March, Pelosi said, "Quite frankly, I thought they might have accomplished something in the first few months. They have absolutely no record of accomplishment."