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 McConnellConservatives wage assault on Mueller report Overnight Energy: Interior reverses decision at heart of Zinke criminal probe | Dem divisions deepen over approach to climate change | GM to add 400 workers to build electric cars Trump: Green New Deal 'the most preposterous thing' and 'easy to beat' MORE (R-Ky.) says repealing and replacing ObamaCare is “pretty high” on the GOP’s 2017 agenda.

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanFormer Dem candidate says he faced cultural barriers on the campaign trail because he is working-class Former House candidate and ex-ironworker says there is 'buyer's remorse' for Trump in Midwest Head of top hedge fund association to step down 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 TrumpMueller report findings could be a 'good day' for Trump, Dem senator says Trump officials heading to China for trade talks next week Showdown looms over Mueller report 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 CruzCNN town halls put network at center of Dem primary The Memo: Trump can't let go of McCain grudge Michael Bennet is close to deciding on possible presidential bid 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) MoranThe 25 Republicans who defied Trump on emergency declaration Overnight Defense: Senate rejects border emergency in rebuke to Trump | Acting Pentagon chief grilled on wall funding | Warren confronts chief over war fund budget 12 Republican senators defy Trump on emergency declaration  MORE (Kan.) and Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeStop asking parents to sacrifice Social Security benefits for paid family leave The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump hits media over New Zealand coverage GOP moves to rein in president's emergency powers 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 McCainFormer astronaut running for Senate in Arizona returns money from paid speech in UAE Fox's Roberts: Trump 'glared at me like I've never seen him glare at me before' Lou Dobbs: Political criticism of McCain 'not an exhumation of his body' 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 CollinsSenate GOP poised to go 'nuclear' on Trump picks Overnight Health Care: CDC pushes for expanding HIV testing, treatment | Dem group launches ads attacking Trump on Medicare, Medicaid cuts | Hospitals, insurers spar over surprise bills | O'Rourke under pressure from left on Medicare for all Dem group launches ads attacking Trump's 'hypocrisy on Medicare and Medicaid cuts' MORE (Maine) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiRed dresses displayed around American Indian museum to memorialize missing, murdered native women Juan Williams: Don't rule out impeaching Trump The 25 Republicans who defied Trump on emergency declaration 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 GrahamDem senator: 'Appropriate' for Barr, Mueller to testify publicly about Russia probe Conservatives wage assault on Mueller report Graham expects 'thorough' briefing on Mueller report MORE (R-S.C.) and Bill CassidyWilliam (Bill) Morgan CassidySenators ask CBO to review options for preventing surprise medical bills Five things to watch for in Trump's 2020 budget Overnight Health Care - Presented by Kidney Care Partners - FDA chief Scott Gottlieb resigns | House Dems to take up drug pricing bills next week | Planned Parenthood, doctors group sue over Trump abortion rule 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.