Money and Business

Why did the GOP health care bill fail? Not enough wrestlers

, IndyStar Washington Bureau

Vice President Mike Pence on Saturday suggested one step the Trump administration could have taken to get enough votes for its health care bill. 

Speaking with Linda McMahon, head of the Small Business Administration, at a construction supply company in West Virginia, Pence noted McMahon is co-founder of the professional wrestling franchise WWE.

“Maybe we could have used a few of your WWE superstars on Capitol Hill yesterday,” Pence joked.

Republicans had to pull from the House floor Friday their bill to undo Obamacare because of divisions within their caucus over how to replace it.

“Congress just wasn’t ready,” Pence said. “We’re back to the drawing board.”

He quoted President Trump’s Saturday morning tweet that Obamacare “will explode and we’ll all get together and piece together a great healthcare plan for the people.”

ObamaCare will explode and we will all get together and piece together a great healthcare plan for THE PEOPLE. Do not worry!

But Pence portrayed the unity problem as not a lack of disagreement among Republicans, who control both chambers of Congress and the White House. Rather, Pence blamed a lack of support for the GOP bill to opposition from 100 percent of Democrats, along with a “handful” of Republicans.

“When Republicans and Democrats finally decide to come together to repeal and replace Obamacare, we’ll be ready to get the job done,” he said. “We will end the Obamacare nightmare and give the American people the world class health care they deserve.”

Democrats say they’re willing to work with Republicans to improve Obamacare, but only if Republicans stop trying to gut the law.

“If they take repeal off the table, we’re willing to sit down with them and improve Obamacare,” Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., told CNN. “It’s doing a good job, but there are places that it can be improved. No question about it.”

A majority of voters — 56 percent — opposed the GOP bill, while only 17 percent supported it, according to a Quinnipiac University surveyed of 1,056 voters taken March 16-21.

Until there’s an agreement on health care, Pence said, Trump would get on with other parts of his agenda. That includes cutting taxes for every American and reducing the corporate tax rate to 15 percent.

He also pledged the administration would end illegal immigration.

“I just heard that you have a wall division here at Fosters,” Pence said to the small business owners hosting the event. “Maybe we need to talk.”

Contact Maureen Groppe at mgroppe@gannett.com.  Follow her on Twitter: @mgroppe.

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