U.S. health care bill collapses after 2 Republican senators defect

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“There are serious problems with Obamacare, and my goal remains what it has been for a long time: to repeal and replace it,” Moran said in a statement. “This closed-door process unfortunately has yielded the” Senate repeal bill, which he asserted, “failed to repeal the Affordable Care Act or address health care’s rising costs.”

The two senators co-ordinated their statements Monday night to have maximum impact. Already two other Republicans, Susan Collins of Maine, a moderate, and Rand Paul of Kentucky, a conservative, had declared their opposition to the latest version of the Senate repeal bill, which was unveiled last week. That left Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, on a knife’s edge, unable to absorb a single other defection.

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By jumping together, Moran and Lee ensured no one would be the definitive “no” vote.

With four solid votes against the bill, Republican leaders were faced with two options: Try to go back and rewrite the bill in a way that could secure 50 Republican votes, a seeming impossibility at this point, or do as McConnell promised and team with Democrats to draft a narrower, bipartisan measure to fix the flaws in the Affordable Care Act that both parties acknowledge.

The Senate Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer of New York, responded to the announcements by urging his Republican colleagues to begin anew and, this time, to undertake a bipartisan effort.

“This second failure of Trumpcare is proof positive that the core of this bill is unworkable,” Schumer said. “Rather than repeating the same failed, partisan process yet again, Republicans should start from scratch and work with Democrats on a bill that lowers premiums, provides long term stability to the markets and improves our health care system.”