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The Memo: Winners and losers from the battle over health care
A week of high drama in Washington reached a stunning climax on Friday: President Trump and Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) decided to pull the Republican bill that had sought to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act rather than watch it go down to certain defeat.
There will be no second attempt anytime soon. Ryan said at a Capitol Hill news conference on Friday afternoon that the nation will "be living with ObamaCare for the foreseeable future."
It's an astonishing conclusion to one of the main fights that Republicans – including Trump – have sought for years.
As the dust settles, who are the biggest winners and losers?
Make no mistake, this was a humiliating defeat for a president who campaigned as the ultimate deal-maker who could shake up a moribund Washington and get things done.
His big legislative push has fallen at the first hurdle. Trump himself was deeply engaged in trying to win over reluctant Republican lawmakers – and it didn't work.
There are many unknowns: How will this affect other items on Trump's agenda? How much frustration among grassroots Republican voters will be focused on him rather than Ryan or the GOP lawmakers who refused to get on board?
In remarks on Friday afternoon, Trump sought to put a brave face on the situation, avoiding lashing out at any Republicans and arguing that the Democrats would continue to "own" ObamaCare, to their political detriment.
But when Trump said, "There's not much you can do about it," referring to ObamaCare, it seemed an oddly impotent remark for a sitting president with majorities in both houses of Congress.
This is a very big setback for Trump. Just how big will become clear only after more time has passed.
Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.)
Friday's developments were at least as damaging for Ryan as they were for the president.
Whether the American Health Care Act would ultimately have been signed into law or not, the fact that Ryan could not get it through the House is deeply embarrassing for the Speaker.
Ryan's fingerprints were all over the legislation, which faced immediate and fierce pushback from conservative members of his own conference as well as several important interest groups.
Some Trump loyalists contend that Ryan erred by focusing on healthcare rather than tax reform out of the gate. And conservative media commentators are openly questioning his leadership.
Trump publicly insists that he retains confidence in Ryan. But the Speaker went down to a big defeat that revealed an inability to muscle his members into line.
Vice President Pence, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, and Office of Management And Budget Director Mick Mulvaney
Pence, Price and Mulvaney were all once House members – in the case of the latter two, right up until they joined the Trump administration.
As such, the White House had suggested they would be especially effective in winning over members of the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus and other lawmakers. Mulvaney was a founding member of the group.
When all's said and done, the trio failed to round up the required votes. That's a political black eye for all three men.
[Source: By Niall Stanage, The Hill, Washington, 24Mar17]
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