South Carolina’s Republican lawmakers searched for a silver lining after President Donald Trump and congressional leadership failed to wrangle enough support to bring their healthcare reform plan to a public vote.
While some members criticized fellow Republicans for not falling in line to support legislation that would have fulfilled their pledge to voters to repeal the Affordable Care Act, others saw opportunity to craft a better bill in the future.
“What the ACA has done to participants in the individual healthcare marketplace continues to be a great problem for many Americans, and therefore, I believe this bill will come back to the floor in a way that bridges philosophical gaps and stays true to the deliberative process so vital in producing good legislation,” said Rep. Mark Sanford, one of the conservatives who opposed the bill for not going far enough away from Obamacare.
Sen. Lindsey Graham in a series of tweets predicted an eventual demise for the ACA while wishing for future bipartisan health care reform.
“Appears efforts to Repeal & Replace #Obamacare being put on the shelf for time being. Next move on healthcare – Collapse and Replace,” Graham tweeted. “#Winning is replacing Obamacare with something that improves the health care choices available to Americans. #Losing is simply passing a bill for the sake of passing a bill.Good news is we still have a chance to WIN.”
The American Health Care Act, proposed by House Speaker Paul Ryan and supported by Trump, sparked an intense debate in the House of Representatives and split the South Carolina congressional delegation.
Rep. Tom Rice was the most outspoken supporter within the delegation from the start and he argued on the House floor to get his fellow Republicans to come on board.
After a vote was canceled on Friday afternoon, Rice called for House members to be held accountable.
“Obamacare is failing miserably and only getting worse,” Rice said in an email. “Republicans have promised to repeal and replace this law and I’m disappointed this vote was pulled.”
Sen. Tim Scott said Congress must find a way forward.
“We still must repeal Obamacare, because Americans deserve a better system that ensures every American family has access to quality care,” Scott said in an email.
Rep. Joe Wilson, who supported the bill from its inception along with Rice, was quick to state his continued support of Ryan.
“It was not a perfect bill, but it was an important first step in repealing and replacing Obamacare,” Wilson said in a statement by email.
The tone was far different on the other side of the aisle, where South Carolina’s only Democratic lawmaker, Rep. Jim Clyburn, cheered the bill’s demise.
Before the bill was pulled, Clyburn lamented tthe possibility of the House passing a bill that stepped on Martin Luther King Jr.’s fight for equal health care rights in 1966. Once the bill was pulled, Clyburn said the House of Representatives honored King.
“King used two words: he said it was inhumane, but he also said it was egregious,” Clyburn said. "A majority of the members of the U.S. House of Representatives saw how inhumane this manager's amendment would be for this very, very important area of our lives.”
Reps. Trey Gowdy and Jeff Duncan declined to offer immediate reaction, but spokespeople for both said they had planned to vote for the bill.