WH Blames Democrats for Failure of Senate Health Care Bill

By Melanie Arter | July 18, 2017 | 6:50pm EDT
White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Sanders (CNSNews.com/Melanie Arter)

(CNSNews.com) - The White House on Tuesday blamed Democrats for the failure of the Senate health care bill, saying they're responsible for passing Obamacare and "for creating the mess that we're in."

When asked who is primarily responsible for what appears to be the failure of the health care legislation, White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, "I would say Democrats. They're responsible."

"Can you explain to me how, given that they're in the minority?" a reporter asked.

"Absolutely. They're responsible for passing Obamacare. They're responsible for creating the mess that we're in," Sanders said. 

"They're responsible for being unwilling to work with Republicans in any capacity to fix a system that they know is completely flawed and have publicly said so. I think that it's pretty clear, and I think the responsibility lies on their shoulders," Sanders added.

As CNSNews.com reported, President Donald Trump tweeted on Tuesday, "As I have always said, let ObamaCare fail and then come together and do a great healthcare plan. Stay tuned!"

When asked about the president's comments about letting Obamacare fail and why it is "acceptable policy," Sanders said, "Look, Democrats have refused to join in fixing the health care problems that have plagued our health care system specifically in large part due to Obamacare and Obamacare's failures, and that sort of I think behavior is simply unacceptable, and hopefully with the collapse of the program that they put into place, they'll be more willing to come to the table and clean up the mess."

When asked whether it was "realistic" to expect an agreement on health care before August recess or whether it will take much longer, Sanders said the administration isn't focused on a timetable so much as getting it right.

"Again, as we've said many times before, we're less focused on the timetable and making sure we actually get it right and get it done. We're continuing to focus on repealing and replacing Obamacare with a system that actually works, and those priorities and principles haven't changed," Sanders said.

When asked whether it is possible to get the bill passed after the August recess or maybe even in 2018, Sanders said, "Ideally I think it happens as soon as possible, but again, we’ve been clear about not saying 'by X date, by X date,' but more about 'let’s get better coverage, let’s get a better plan and a better program.' That’s been our focus, not the timetable."

Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Shelly Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said they can't support repealing Obamacare without a replacement plan. Capito and Murkowski voted for the exact same bill two years ago.

"Sarah, three Republican senators -- Collins, Murkowski, and Capito -- have come out against this idea of repeal. Collins, not surprising, she voted against it in 2015. However, Murkowski and Capito both voted for repeal in 2015, and now they’re saying they’re against it. Is this thing dead before it even leaves the barn?" a reporter asked.

"I think the thing that’s dead here is Obamacare. I think we’ve seen that it’s completely failed, and at this point Congress needs to do their job and they need to do it as quickly as they can, because every day that they don’t, we go further into collapsing under Obamacare," Sanders said.

"And so I think that, at this point, inaction is not a workable solution, and so they need to come to the table and figure out how to reform the system and fix it," Sanders added.

"So what do you say to these two senators, Murkowski and Capito, who voted for repeal in 2015 but now say they won’t vote for it in 2017?"the reporter asked.

"I think we say what the vice president said today: Do your job. It’s time for Congress to do their job and do it now," Sanders said.

"Speaking to members of the House, Paul Ryan a short time ago said it’s pretty difficult to explain to your constituents why you voted for something two years ago but aren’t voting for it now.  Is that the tact that this White House will take, as well?" the reporter asked.

"I think that’s something that those senators will have to answer to their constituents. That’s not something that the White House has to answer on behalf of those members," Sanders replied.

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