Vice President Pence said that President Trump intends to keep his promise to overhaul the Affordable Care Act, pledging that the legislation's collapse Friday was a setback that “won’t last very long.”
“President Trump is never going to stop fighting to keep his promises to the American people,” Pence said during an appearance in Scott Depot, W.Va., where he blamed Democrats and “a handful of Republicans” for standing in the president's way.
House Republican leaders pulled the bill Friday that they had unveiled just 18 days earlier after it became clear that there was not enough buy-in from both conservative and moderate lawmakers in the party.
Though the bill’s defeat has widely been seen as a major setback for Trump, who’s repeatedly touted his own negotiating skills, Pence praised the president's lobbying efforts.
“You saw his resolve, to work with whoever he needed to work with, to call whoever he needed to call, to get our plan across the finish line this week on Capitol Hill,” Pence said. “I’ve got to tell you, I was inspired by President Trump’s determination and commitment to keep his promise to the American people.”
Pence said that he and Trump were grateful to House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and other House Republicans who were prepared to vote for the bill.
“But as we all learned yesterday, Congress just wasn’t ready,” Pence said. “You saw it. With 100 percent of House Democrats — every single one — and a handful of Republicans actually standing in the way of President Trump’s plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, we’re back to the drawing board.”
Pence noted that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called the bill’s defeat “a victory for the American people.”
“But I promise you that victory won’t last very long,” Pence said. “The American people want Obamacare gone.”
Pence pointed to a Saturday morning tweet from Trump suggesting Democrats would be forced to work with Republicans on a replacement bill once the Affordable Care Act “explodes.”
“As the president said today, don’t worry America,” Pence said. “Obamacare is going to continue to explode, and when Republicans and Democrats finally decide to come together and repeal and replace Obamacare, we’ll be ready to get the job done.”
“We will end the Obamacare nightmare and give the American people the world-class healthcare that they deserve,” Pence added. “Until then, I can promise you, President Trump is never going to stop fighting to keep his promises to the American people.”
In a lighter moment, Pence acknowledged the presence of Linda McMahon, the chief of the Small Business Administration and a former president of the WWE wrestling network.
“Maybe we could have used a few of your WWE superstars on Capitol Hill yesterday,” Pence said playfully.