Vice President Mike Pence pushed Republicans in Congress to "step up" and repeal Obamacare after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell abandoned plans Monday night to simultaneously repeal and replace the 2010 healthcare law.
"The Senate should vote to repeal now and replace later, or return to the legislation carefully crafted in the House and Senate," Pence said Tuesday during remarks to the National Retail Federation. "But either way, inaction is not an option. Congress needs to step up. Congress needs to do their job, and Congress needs to do their job now."
McConnell, R-Ky., announced Monday night he was shifting the strategy for Obamacare's repeal after two Republican senators, Mike Lee of Utah and Jerry Moran of Kansas, said they would vote against a motion to begin debate on the Senate GOP's healthcare bill.
With their defections, Lee and Moran effectively killed the bill after it became clear McConnell did not have the votes for it to pass due to previous GOP defections.
McConnell said he would instead move forward with a new bill that fully repeals Obamacare and gives Congress two years to work out a replacement.
Pence and President Trump backed the two-step, repeal-first, replace-later strategy earlier this month after Republican senators struggled to coalesce around the initial draft of the Senate's healthcare bill, released at the end of June.
Pence told the National Retail Federation he and the president stand by McConnell's decision to push for a straight repeal.
"Last night, we learned that the Senate still doesn't have consensus on a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare at the same time," he said. "President Trump and I fully support the majority leader's decision to move forward with a bill that just repeals Obamacare and gives Congress time, as the president said, to work on a new healthcare plan that will start with a clean slate."
McConnell now plans to revive a 2015 bill that repealed Obamacare's major provisions, including the penalties attached to the individual and employer mandates, funding for Medicaid expansion, the law's subsidies, and taxes.
The 2015 bill also stripped Planned Parenthood of its federal funding for a year.
That plan passed both the House and Senate, but was vetoed by former President Barack Obama.