President Trump said Tuesday that Republicans should allow Obamacare to collapse and wait for Democrats to seek the GOP's help fixing it now that the Republican effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act has failed.
Trump told reporters at the White House that his preference is "to let Obamacare fail," an approach he said "will be a lot easier."
"And I think we're probably in that position where we'll let Obamacare fail. We're not going to own it. I'm not going to own it," Trump said. "I can tell you the Republicans are not going to own it. We'll let Obamacare fail and then the Democrats are going to come to us."
The president acknowledged that he was "disappointed" with Senate Republicans' inability to pass a bill that repealed and replaced Obamacare simultaneously. Two conservative lawmakers, Sens. Jerry Moran and Mike Lee, emerged Monday evening with their opposition to the healthcare bill senators have been working on for more than a month, effectively killing the legislation. Sens. Rand Paul and Susan Collins had already announced their intention to vote "no" on the measure.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he will now proceed with the House-passed version of a healthcare bill, amended to include a clean repeal measure Republicans supported overwhelmingly in 2015. The clean repeal provision would end Obamacare in two years, giving lawmakers a chance to work out the details of its replacement in the meantime.
When the fate of the Senate healthcare bill was first looking uncertain before the July 4th recess, Trump tweeted his support for the concept of fully repealing Obamacare first and then debating a replacement system.
Trump said he did not expect Moran and Lee to come out against the healthcare bill on Monday evening. Although senators had planned to vote on the legislation this week, Sen. John McCain's absence due to surgery prompted McConnell to delay the vote while McCain recovers.
"I was very surprised when the two folks came out last night because we thought they were in fairly good shape, but they did. You know, everybody has their own reason," Trump said. "And we'll have to probably pull in those few people who voted against it. They'll have to explain to you why they did, and I'm sure they'll have very fine reasons."
Trump said that leadership's efforts to unite 48 of the Senate's 52 Republicans behind the failed bill was "a pretty impressive vote by any standard."