President Donald Trump said he did not blame Speaker Paul Ryan for the failure to pass the American Health Care Act on Friday. Instead, he blamed Democrats and argued that the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, will likely collapse in the future.
In comments from the Oval Office soon after Republicans pulled the bill from the floor, Trump repeatedly said Obamacare will “explode” and said that when that happens, he and Republicans will be willing to make a deal.
“I honestly believe the Democrats will come to us and say, ‘Let’s come together,’” Trump predicted.
Despite issuing an ultimatum on Thursday night demanding a vote on the replacement bill or leaving Obamacare in place, Trump said he was “open to tackling health care again,” though he did not specify when that would take place.
“We have to let Obamacare go its own way for a little while,” he said.
Though the Republicans have a 44-seat majority in the House, Trump cited the lack of a single Democratic vote for the replacement bill as crucial to its defeat.
“We had no Democrat support,” Trump said. “They weren't going to us a single vote.”
Trump also said Democrats succeeded in confusing the public, claiming, “lots of people don't realize how good our bill was.”
Despite intense opposition from the right wing of the Republican party, especially the House Freedom Caucus, Trump declined to criticize any faction of his own party for the bill’s failure, praising Ryan while obliquely referencing “a long history of liking and disliking” among conservatives.
Trump also characterized the bill as a learning experience for himself, a nod to his lack of legislative experience.
“We all learned a lot, we learned a lot about loyalty, we learned about the vote getting process, we learned about a lot of arcane rules in the House and the Senate,” Trump said. “In the end I think it’s gonna be an experience that leads to an even better health care plan.”
While Democratic leaders celebrated Friday afternoon, with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi saying it was “a great day for our country” and a “victory for the American people,” and Republicans acknowledged a stinging defeat, with Ryan calling it a “disappointing day for us,” Trump tried to frame the Democrats as the “losers” in the long-running health care debate.
“The losers today are Nancy Pelosi and (Senate Minority Leader) Chuck Schumer,” Trump said. “They have Obamacare for a little while, until it ceases to exist.”