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Trump says 'let Obamacare implode' after crushing defeat in the Senate

Three Republican Senators voted with Democrats to defeat the measure.

Updated 10.40am

Congress Health Overhaul Demonstrators rally outside of the Capitol Source: Cliff Owen via Press Association Images

DEALING A SERIOUS blow to President Donald Trump’s agenda, the Senate has rejected a measure to repeal parts of former President Barack Obama’s health care law after a night of high suspense in the US Capitol.

Unable to pass even a so-called “skinny repeal”, it was unclear if Senate Republicans could advance any health bill despite seven years of promises to repeal “Obamacare”.

Trump reacted in his usual fashion, tweeting his displeasure at the vote.

He said: “3 Republicans and 48 Democrats let the American people down.

As I said from the beginning, let Obamacare implode, then deal. Watch!

A key vote to defeat the measure was cast by Senator John McCain, who returned to the Senate this week after receiving a diagnosis of brain cancer.

In an impassioned speech the day he returned, McCain had called for bipartisanship on major issues of national concern, and a return to the “regular order” of legislating by committee.

Three Republicans joined with all Democrats to reject the amendment, which would have repealed a mandate that would see most individuals get health insurance and suspended a requirement that large companies provide coverage to their employees.

It would have also delayed a tax on medical devices and denied funding to Planned Parenthood, which provides reproductive health care,  for a year.

The final vote was 49-51. Republicans Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine joined McCain in voting no.

The amendment was a last resort for Senate Republicans to pass something – anything – to trigger negotiations with the House.

“This is clearly a disappointing moment,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. He put the health care bill on hold.

Buoyed by a signal from House Speaker Paul Ryan, McConnell had introduced a pared-down health care bill that he hoped would keep alive Republican ambitions to repeal “Obamacare”.

“It’s time to turn the page,” said Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer of New York. “We are not celebrating. We are relieved.”

The measure would have repealed the unpopular Affordable Care Act requiring most people to have health insurance or risk a fine from the IRS. A similar requirement on larger employers would be suspended for eight years.

With reporting from Sean Murray

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