WASHINGTON — House Speaker Paul Ryan conceded the biggest defeat of his political career Friday: Republicans have failed to repeal and replace Obamacare.
The painful acknowledgment marked a stunning setback for the 47-year-old, who ascended to the powerful position of House speaker in fall 2015. The shocking turn of events this week — culminating in the last-minute decision to pull the GOP health care bill from the House floor Friday afternoon — was particularly excruciating for Ryan, who made his name in Washington as a conservative policy wonk committed to repealing the Affordable Care Act.
The bill that too many of his fellow colleagues ultimately rejected was based on Ryan’s signature policy agenda, called “A Better Way.”
“We came really close today, but we came up short,” Ryan said at a news conference. “I will not sugarcoat this. This is a disappointing day for us.”
Ryan spoke alone from behind the podium, and he was not flanked by any of the Republican colleagues or White House officials who had furiously worked with him for weeks to try to get the health care legislation through the House.
The Wisconsin Republican said he had directly informed President Donald Trump that he did not have the votes, and that the President accepted his recommendation that Republicans yank the bill.
Ryan said he simply that did not know if or when Obamacare would ever go away.
“I don’t know what else to say other than Obamacare is the law of the land. It’ll remain law of the land until it’s replaced,” he said. “We’re going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future.”