Just hours after Senate Republicans failed to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act — seemingly ending a dogged legislative effort — members of the North Carolina congressional delegation were pushing for a new attempt.
“Obamacare repeal is not optional — American families are hurting. It’s on Congress to keep working until we deliver on our promise,” said Republican Rep. Mark Meadows, leader of the House Freedom Caucus.
Meadows, who represents the far western part of the state, went on Fox News’ “Fox and Friends” on Friday morning to press for a new bill.
“I can tell you, the president is already engaged this morning. We’re going to go back to work to make sure we get a bill,” Meadows said on Fox News. “I’m optimistic we can still get it done.”
The House narrowly passed the American Health Care Act in May with only Republican votes, but the Senate couldn’t reach 51 votes to pass a straight repeal, a repeal-and-replace plan or, in the end, the “skinny” repeal. Three Republicans voted against the measure early Friday morning.
Republicans have run against and promised repeal of the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare,” since its passage in 2010. With Republicans controlling the House, Senate and White House, many expected swift action on the promise this year. Instead, Republican efforts have been halting.
North Carolina Republicans Richard Burr and Thom Tillis voted in favor of all three Senate measures this week and said that more work is needed on the nation’s health care system.
“I am disappointed that the Senate could not pass legislation to address the health care crisis facing our country,” Burr said in a statement. “Though we were unable to come to a resolution, our health care system is still broken, costs continue to rise, and Americans have fewer options for health care coverage. I will continue to keep my promise to North Carolinians by working to provide relief to families burdened by the unbearable weight of Obamacare.”
Said Tillis: “The majority of members of Congress made a promise to the American people to repeal and replace Obamacare with solutions that will help control the cost of premiums and provide more choices and flexibility for families and individuals. While today’s vote was unsuccessful, we cannot accept the status quo as Obamacare continues down an unsustainable path, and Congress has an obligation to keep pursuing solutions to fix our nation’s broken health care system.”
Democrats, who have rebuffed attempts to repeal former President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement, were pleased with Friday’s vote in the Senate.
“While last night’s news is a great relief, the fight to protect the ACA is far from over,” said Rep. David Price, a Chapel Hill Democrat.
“Very relieved waking up knowing millions of Americans still have healthcare. It’s time we all come together to strengthen & improve the ACA,” Rep. Alma Adams, a Charlotte Democrat, posted on Twitter.
Rep. Ted Budd, a first-term Republican whose district stretches south and west from Greensboro, said he remains “committed to repealing Obamacare.”
Rep. Richard Hudson, a Republican whose district stretches from east of Charlotte to Fayetteville, said “the Senate needs to keep working to keep the promise made to repeal/replace Obamacare.”
Rep. Robert Pittenger said that every county in his district — in south central North Carolina along the border with South Carolina — has only one insurance provider on the health care exchange.
“The Senate must not let down the American people. Obamacare is collapsing,” Pittenger said, adding that he and House Republicans are ready to move onto tax reform.
Brian Murphy: 202.383.6089; @MurphinDC