TIMELINE: The GOP's failed effort to repeal ObamaCare

TIMELINE: The GOP's failed effort to repeal ObamaCare
© Greg Nash

For months, Republicans agonized over their ObamaCare repeal-and-replace effort.

It was declared dead in the spring. Then revived and passed in the House. It appeared dead in the Senate this summer, but came back to life.

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But this week it met its demise — at least in the immediate future. The vehicle they were using to avoid a Democratic filibuster expires at the end of the month, and Republicans won’t be voting on another ObamaCare repeal bill this week.

Here’s a look back at the GOP effort:

After midnight on Nov. 9: Donald Trump is declared the winner of the presidential election. Republicans retain control of both the House and the Senate. 


Nov. 9: At a press conference, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTeacher defeats Kentucky state House majority leader in GOP primary Conservatives leery of FBI deal on informant Lobbying world MORE (R-Ky.) says repealing and replacing ObamaCare is “pretty high” on the GOP’s 2017 agenda.

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanConservatives leery of FBI deal on informant Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by PCMA — House passes 'right to try' drug bill | Trump moves to restrict abortion referrals Hillicon Valley: Trump claims 'no deal' to help Chinese company ZTE | Congress briefed on election cyber threats | Mueller mystery - Where's indictment for DNC hack? | Zuckerberg faces tough questions in Europe MORE (R-Wis.) said, “This Congress, this House majority, this Senate majority has already demonstrated and proven we're able to pass that legislation and put it on the president's desk. The problem is President Obama vetoed it. Now, we have President TrumpDonald John TrumpCNN's Zucker: Trump 'secretly watching CNN' all day and night GOP candidate behind 'Deportation Bus' loses in gubernatorial bid Penn to Hewitt: Mueller probe born out of ‘hysteria’ MORE coming who is asking us to do this.”


Nov. 13: During Trump’s first television interview since the election, he said repeal and replace would be done “simultaneously.”


Jan. 25: Republicans will repeal and replace parts of ObamaCare by spring, Ryan said at the GOP’s annual policy retreat in Philadelphia.

The goal: Mark up a bill in the coming weeks and bring the final package to the floor by late February or early March.


March 6: The House releases an ObamaCare repeal-and-replace bill, called the American Health Care Act. Intraparty opposition quickly mounted, with some conservatives calling it “ObamaCare 2.0” and “ObamaCare Lite.”


March 8–9: The House begins marking up the bill. Both the Energy and Commerce and the Ways and Means committees hold lengthy mark ups, lasting all day and into the next, yet ultimately passing in party-line votes.


March 16: The House Budget Committee narrowly passes the bill, with three members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus voting against advancing the measure.

Both conservatives and moderates slammed the bill. The GOP was facing a problem that perpetuated throughout the repeal process: Move the bill to the center, and conservatives defect. Move the bill to the right, and moderates defect.


March 24: Lacking the votes, Ryan pulled the bill from the House floor.


April 26: The House Freedom Caucus endorses a revised bill, giving new life to the ObamaCare repeal effort.

The key change: The inclusion of an amendment from Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and centrist Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.). The new provision lets states opt out of certain insurance regulations.


May 4: The House narrowly approves its ObamaCare repeal bill, 217-213. Twenty Republicans opposed the measure, many of whom are centrists from swing-state districts.

Meanwhile, senators express concerns with the House bill and make it clear the upper chamber won’t simply take up the measure as is.


June 22: GOP leadership releases a draft of their ObamaCare bill — the Better Care Reconciliation Act — after nearly two months of policy lunches and meetings aimed at crafting a bill. Some Republicans deride the closed-door process. Concerns over the bill abound, particularly with the legislation’s deep cuts to Medicaid.


June 27: With the July 4 recess rapidly approaching, Republican leaders had hoped to vote to repeal ObamaCare before the weeklong break. But McConnell decides to delay it, knowing the votes aren’t there.


July 13: Republicans unveil more changes to the bill, such as an amendment from Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzPoll: Cruz leads O'Rourke by 7 points Freedom Caucus bruised but unbowed in GOP primary fights Five races to watch in the Texas runoffs MORE (R-Texas) that would let insurers offer plans that don’t meet all of ObamaCare’s regulations as long as they offer ones that do.


July 17: In a hectic evening, GOP Sens. Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranRepublicans think Trump is losing trade war Senators demand answers on Trump’s ZTE deal Senate GOP urges Trump administration to work closely with Congress on NAFTA MORE (Kan.) and Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeSenate GOP urges Trump administration to work closely with Congress on NAFTA Senate panel advances Trump's CIA nominee Doug Jones to oppose Haspel as CIA chief MORE (Utah) announce in tandem that they won’t support the Senate’s bill to repeal and replace ObamaCare — effectively blocking the legislation.

McConnell counters that senators would then vote on a repeal-only ObamaCare bill with no replacement.


July 20: Some senators denounce the repeal-only strategy. Others say the chamber is so close on its bill that they don’t want to give up. With those sentiments, GOP leadership reopens negotiations on its bill and release an updated version.

Republicans head into the weekend unsure of which bill they will be voting on — a clean repeal or the repeal-and-replace bill.


July 25: The Senate votes to begin debate on an ObamaCare repeal bill, with Vice President Pence breaking the tie. Returning to the Senate for the first time since his cancer diagnosis, Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainOvernight Defense: Pompeo lays out new Iran terms | Pentagon hints at more aggressive posture against Iran | House, Senate move on defense bill Senate GOP urges Trump administration to work closely with Congress on NAFTA Sarah Sanders: ‘Democrats are losing their war against women in the Trump administration’ MORE (R-Ariz.) blasts the process, urging the upper chamber to return to regular order.

Later that night, the Senate shoots down its repeal-and-replace bill on a procedural hurdle, and the legislation winds up needing 60 votes.


July 26: The Senate rejects a repeal-only bill.


 July 27–28: Senate leaders decide to vote on a scaled-down version of an ObamaCare repeal bill, aiming to merge it with the House-passed measure after passage.

While many believe it has the votes to pass, it’s unclear how McCain will vote.

Pence confers intently with McCain before the vote, and later the Arizona senator huddles with Democrats on the Senate floor. When the vote is called, McCain gives a dramatic, deciding thumbs-down. He joins GOP Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsPressure rising on GOP after Trump–DOJ fight’s latest turn Trump's plan to claw back spending hits wall in Congress Dem rep to launch discharge petition to force net neutrality vote in House MORE (Maine) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiKeeping Pruitt could cost GOP Congress, Trump in the fall Trump's plan to claw back spending hits wall in Congress GOP, Dem lawmakers come together for McCain documentary MORE (Alaska) in killing the bill.


July 28, 2:05 a.m.: A stunned McConnell says "it is time to move on" in a floor speech.


August: Trump repeatedly blames McConnell for the GOP’s failure to pass the health-care legislation.


Sept. 13: Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSenate GOP urges Trump administration to work closely with Congress on NAFTA Graham: Trump will 'end North Korea’s threat to the American homeland' in his first term Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers weigh in after Texas school shooting MORE (R-S.C.) and Bill CassidyWilliam (Bill) Morgan CassidySenate GOP urges Trump administration to work closely with Congress on NAFTA GOP, Dem lawmakers come together for McCain documentary Graham working on new ObamaCare repeal bill MORE (R-La.) release a new ObamaCare repeal bill, but little time is left. The GOP must pass an ObamaCare repeal bill by the end of the month to avoid a Democratic filibuster. The bill picks up some momentum, with House leaders saying they will pass the measure if it clears the Senate. But support quickly fades.


Sept. 26: The Graham-Cassidy bill dies as three Senate Republicans announce they oppose the effort, and Senate Republicans decide not to hold a roll call on a bill that lacks the votes to pass.