With Senate Republicans unable to find compromise on legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich declared Monday night that GOP lawmakers, whose party controls the White House and both houses of Congress, need to “perform.”
“We’ve had six months of patience. It’s time to perform,” Gingrich told Fox News’s “Hannity” Monday night. “Frankly, about healthcare, [if] you can’t pass the gigantic bill, tell me what you can pass, but get something done that starts to move us away from Obamacare.”
The former speaker vented his frustration just hours after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced that his party would not move forward on a procedural vote on its repeal-and-replace legislation and would instead bring to the floor and vote on a so-called “clean repeal” bill that undoes the signature healthcare legislation of former President Barack Obama but does not replace it. Republicans in both the House and Senate passed a version of that legislation in 2015 that was vetoed by Obama.
News that Republicans had abandoned efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare simultaneously sent the value of the U.S. dollar tumbling Monday night into Tuesday morning. The dollar index, which measures the U.S. currency against a basket of foreign currencies, dropped to its lowest level since September 2016, CNN reported Tuesday. The dollar also weakened against the Euro, the British Pound and Japanese Yen.
After more than seven years of campaigning on repealing Obamacare, Republicans have run headlong into the political realities of rewriting the laws governing the nation’s healthcare system and have struggled to find consensus within their own caucus. The division within the GOP has largely broken down between arch-conservative members, for whom proposed repeal-and-replace measures do not go far enough in undoing Obamacare, and more moderate members, concerned about deep cuts to Medicaid and other programs embedded in the proposals.
In the House, Republican lawmakers were able to strike a compromise, but just barely, passing a repeal-and-replace bill by just a handful of votes. That legislation’s passage prompted Trump to host a celebration in the White House’s Rose Garden with GOP members of Congress, even as Senate leaders declared that they would write their own legislation instead of taking up the House version.
But crafting a bill that could pass in the Senate has proven too tall an order, at least for the time being, for the chamber’s Republican leaders. With a much narrower majority than that of their GOP colleagues in the House, Senate Republicans could afford to lose just two votes and still pass repeal-and-replace legislation, a tight window that seemingly slammed shut Monday when Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) joined Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) in opposing the bill.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat and the current chairman of the National Governors’ Association, was optimistic that the impasse in the Senate could lead to a bipartisan approach to reforming the nation’s healthcare system. But he cautioned that “nobody should be spiking the ball in the end zone today” in celebration but should instead be focused on next steps.
“I knew for the last couple days after all the governors met this weekend in Rhode Island that this was a non-starter. This wasn’t going to go forward… this is a great opportunity, now they need to come together in a bipartisan way,” McAuliffe said. “Today is a great day. The politics is done. They cannot get this through. Let’s go back and do what she should have done day one.”
Gingrich suggested that Republicans must take a lesson from the challenges they’ve faced in working to repeal and replace Obamacare as they seek to make good not just on their long-made campaign promises but the ambitious agenda laid out by Trump.
“First of all, you’ve had six months to look at what happened, what worked, what didn’t. It’s like a football team at halftime,” Gingrich said. “It’s like a military operation in the middle of – you’ve got to take steps, you have to learn lessons. I think that they’ve got to figure out how to do things faster, more simply.”