After clinching a 51-to-49 defeat for the GOP's latest repeal effort in the Senate as three Republican senators voted against repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA, aka Obamacare), attention now turns to what happens next. So, is the health care debate over? A look at what the leaders of both parties said after the key vote gives a good indication.
The Senate GOP Leader, Kentucky's Mitch McConnell, expressed regret that his party couldn't rally 50 of its 52 senators around a "yes" vote. Ultimately, though, he looked toward a bipartisan process.
We look forward to our colleagues on the other side suggesting what they have in mind... it's time to move on.
The Senate Democratic Leader, New York's Chuck Schumer, made similar remarks on health care and called for both parties to wipe the slate clean. Schumer said,
As I've said, over and over again, Obamacare was hardly perfect. It did a lot of good things, but it needs improvement. And I hope one part of turning that page is that we go back to regular order, work in the committees, together, to improve Obamacare.
McConnell and Schumer's words point to one answer: The health care debate is not over. In fact, a real debate, between both parties, might be on the horizon.
To be clear, though, there's nothing stopping Republicans from making trying to pass a repeal effort again. Technically, McConnell could try to draft a new bill and rally the 50 votes necessary, which a number of conservative writers noted on Twitter.
Still, there are two factors that make the idea of a new repeal bill seem unlikely. First, there are strong calls from both Republicans (like John McCain) and Democrats to return to "regular order," and find a bipartisan solution.
So, while it's not exactly clear what exact step Congress will take next, or when that step will come, it looks more likely it will approach health care in a much different way.