The Senate will not hold a vote this week on the crippled Republican bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, GOP lawmakers said Tuesday, kicking the issue into possibly next year, or even later.
The decision came a day after Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, effectively doomed the so-called Graham-Cassidy bill to defeat by saying she would join two other GOP lawmakers in voting against it. Republican leaders could only afford two defections if the bill was to pass.
The move to table the legislation is the latest in a series of embarrassments for Republican leaders. They have repeatedly failed to convince enough members of their own party to support a repeal bill, despite the GOP long promising passage of such legislation to voters.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a lead sponsor of the bill, said the Senate would revisit his legislation after it tries to pass tax reform legislation.
"We're gonna come back to this after taxes," Graham said at a news conference.
Graham tried to put a brave face on the move, saying his bill offered a much better alternative to what he called the failure of Obamacare.
"It's not a matter of if, only a matter of when," Graham said. "We're on a path to pass Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson."
But he also acknowledged that the rush in the past several weeks to pass his bill, without a traditional series of committee hearings on its details, may have played a role in its failure so far.
"With a process that gives more attention and time, we will repeal and replace Obamacare with a block grant [bill] called Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson," Graham said, referring to the funding structure of the legislation.
"We're going to have time to explain our concept, we'll have a better process, and we're going to take this show on the road."