WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado joined with most of his fellow Republicans early Friday in a failed attempt to pass a partial repeal of the Affordable Care Act that even some GOP lawmakers admitted is a strategy only meant to open negotiations with the House.
Three Republicans joined with every Democrat, including Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado, to reject the measure, which would have unwound a handful of the ACA’s taxes and levies, including a fine on most Americans who don’t buy health insurance.
A key vote to defeat the measure was cast by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who returned to the Senate this week after receiving a diagnosis of brain cancer.
The final vote was 49-51. Republicans Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine joined McCain in voting no.
Following the vote, President Donald Trump posted a statement on Twitter saying, “3 Republicans and 48 Democrats let the American people down.”
3 Republicans and 48 Democrats let the American people down. As I said from the beginning, let ObamaCare implode, then deal. Watch!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 28, 2017
Senate Republicans have been unable to come to agreement on how they want to dismantle the ACA — also known as Obamacare — and the overnight vote was a last-ditch effort to keep momentum on their seven-year pledge to reverse President Barack Obama’s signature health care law.
Gardner has said little in the months leading up to this week’s debate on health care, but this week he has stuck with Republican leadership in every major vote related to the repeal effort.
Left unaltered, the so-called skinny bill could have had a dramatic effect on Colorado, including the loss of insurance coverage for an estimated 269,000 Coloradans. Doing away with the mandate to buy coverage also has worried insurers such as Blue Cross Blue Shield that it would shatter the individual market.
For weeks, Senate Democrats have complained about both the bill-writing process and its substance.
Following the vote, Bennet posted a statement on Facebook saying, “While this is a win for tonight, we cannot be complacent.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.