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Senate Health Care Reform Bill Vote Fails; Analysts Examine Failure of Senate Health Care Reform Bill. Aired 8-8:30a ET
Aired July 28, 2017 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[08:00:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, welcome to your NEW DAY. It's Friday, July 28th, 8:00 now in the east. And the big story, Republicans failing in the seven-year effort to dismantle Obamacare. A dramatic late-night vote, Senator John McCain coming back under duress. He cast that big vote to move the process forward and last night gave this skinny repeal the thumbs down. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell telling the president it may be time to move on.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump even tried to call John McCain to sway him, but it obviously did not work. The president blasting the Senate vote this morning saying three Republican senators and all Democrats let the American people down. So what is next for headache and for the president's agenda? Let's begin out coverage with Phil Mattingly. He has been up all night live on Capitol Hill. Phil what a dramatic night and morning.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No question about it. Tense moments, furious lobbying, audible gasps all taking place live on the Senate floor, the culmination, guys, of weeks upon weeks upon week of fits and starts and failures, and what looks like the final end to the repeal and replace effort of Obamacare.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The ayes are 49, the nays are 51. The motion is not agreed to.
MATTINGLY: The Republican Party's seven year effort to repeal Obama collapsing after a dramatic Senate floor vote that dragged on into the early morning. In the end, Senator John McCain cast the decisive final no vote, siding with fellow Republicans Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins, who voiced their disapproval on every measure voted on this week. Republicans' last-ditch effort, the skinny repeal amendment, voted down 49 to 51.
MITCH MCCONNELL, (R-KY) SENATE MINORITY LEADER: This is a disappointment. I regret that our efforts were simply not enough this time.
MATTINGLY: McCain rejecting desperate pleas from Vice President Mike Pence and Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell, even taking a phone call from President Trump according to a source, but none of it swaying the veteran senator who lived up to his nickname, the maverick. SEN. TED CRUZ, (R) TEXAS: Tonight was an unfortunate night. It was a
sad night. But I don't believe that journey is over.
MCCONNELL: So now, Mr. President, it's time to move on.
MATTINGLY: The vote, capping off a day of uncertainty as the Republicans shuffled back and forth from meetings in the Senate floor, desperately trying to wrangle the vote force a skeleton repeal bill designed simply to move the process into a conference with the House. But the seeds of failure were sown early Thursday evening as McCain joined colleagues castigating the bill and the process.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: We've got to have Republicans and Democrats sit down together and come up with a bill that gets a majority in both houses.
MATTINGLY: McCain's close friend, Senator Lindsey Graham, making clear the merits of the bill were lacking.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: The skinny bill as policy is a disaster. The skinny bill as a replacement for Obamacare is a fraud.
MATTINGLY: Each seeking assurance from House Speaker Paul Ryan that the House would not pass the senate bill the Senate Republicans were trying to pass themselves. Ryan eventually relenting, saying the House was willing to go to conference. But it wasn't enough for McCain who said in a statement that the speaker's assurance, quote, "did not ease his concern that the shell of a Bill to be taken up and passed at any time."
MATTINGLY: Guys, just to provide some context here. I've been up here for a number of years. The idea that the Senate majority leader, that Mitch McConnell would put something on the floor that was eventually going to fail is kind of an anathema just in general, based on his reputation, based on just how the U.S. Senate works. The idea that he would put up the thing Republicans have campaigned on for seven years, the issue that is at least possibly responsible for their majorities in the House, the Senate, and controlling the White House, and having that fail in such a dramatic fashion at 1:30 in the morning with a no-vote by a senator who had just returned as he battles brain cancer, you cannot overstate how big and dramatic this moment was. I think people are still having it sink in. Even those who worked on the bill, even some who had an idea McCain was going to vote no, still stunned by what occurred just a couple hours ago.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Absolutely, Phil. Thank you for bringing it all to us. There was so much high drama.
So President Trump now reacting to the defeat on Twitter. He vows again to let Obamacare implode and he places the blame squarely on Congress. CNN's Athena Jones is live at the White House with more. what are they saying, Athena?
ATHENA JONES, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn. This is a major setback for the president and for the White House. Now more than six months into the job, there are still struggling to show they can get big things done legislatively.
The president took to Twitter in the early morning hours not long after the vote, after the bill failed. This is what he had to say. He said "Three Republicans and 48 Democrats let the American people down. As I said from the beginning, let Obamacare implode. Then deal. Watch."
[08:05:09] That tweet showing the president has no intention of changing his strategy of publicly naming, blaming, and shaming Republicans who stood in the way of getting this bill through. But it also shows something we're heard from the president quite a bit over the last several months, this idea of letting Obamacare collapse or explode or implode. That of course would have negative implications for a whole lot of people. It's something that even Republicans have said they don't necessarily want to see happen.
And we know that Arizona Senator John McCain was that third no vote, this despite some serious lobbying, last minute lobbying on the Senate floor. Vice President Mike Pence who had headed to the Hill hoping to cast a tie-breaking vote ended up being a last minute lobbyist. At one point President Trump called Vice President Pence who put him on the phone with McCain, but that brief conversation was ultimately not successful.
The big questions now are what comes next. The White House is signaling they will turn their attention towards tax reform. But the other question looming over all of this is whether the White House can show that they are good at something other than infighting. Alisyn and Chris?
CAMEROTA: Athena, thank you very much.
CUOMO: Just think about the situation. Let's bring everybody back. We have Phil Mattingly, who has been there all night. We have CNN political analyst David Drucker and Josh Green, senior national correspondent for "Bloomberg BusinessWeek," perfect panel for this.
Phil Mattingly, think about what a bizarre world this is that we're living in with this process. A quick end run, got 50 votes, you don't have to deal with the 60. Everything plays to advantage here for the GOP. McConnell, the master of getting it done. And then it goes against him because of the very process that he put in place. He pushed people to make a hard decision. They didn't do it. Even though you're in a world where Lindsey Graham who comes off like a straight shooter, says the bill is kind of a fraud and then votes for it, and he still couldn't get it done.
MATTINGLY: Look, I think an interesting element here just to take you guys behind the scenes a little bit, Republican advisers, McConnell's team knew that this didn't look good. They knew the process they were pursuing wasn't going to be treated well in terms of how it was viewed publicly. It gave Democrats a lot of openings for attacks. But in their minds it was the only way to actually move forward with repeal.
If you're going to try and get 60 votes for something and repeal is your baseline, Democrats are never going to come on board. Well, you don't have 60 votes. You've got 52, so reconciliation with the simple majority process is the only thing you can move forward.
There's a real question given the ideological divides in the party whether you can move anything through the committee process, whether you can actually go through regular order. So there's a very real reason why they chose this path.
I think in the end the reality became they don't agree on health care. I think if you talk to Republicans who campaigned on this issue who care very deeply about repeal, think it means an enormous amount to their constituents, they're kind of befuddled by the fact that they could end up in this place. But when you think about the policy, and Chris, you know this very well, you think about Medicaid state senators, you think about Medicaid expansion state senators, you think about senators whose states have different type of Medicaid populations than other states, there was a lot of skin in the game here that was simply too difficult to overcome.
The process might not have looked good, but at least according to Republican leaders, it was the only one they thought they could pursue for a repeal only type of idea. Now, sitting down, bipartisanship is that possible at some point going forward? Maybe, but that's not what Republicans campaigned on. That's why they pursued this, and that's why they've fallen short, at least up to this point.
CAMEROTA: David Drucker, all of this is set against the backdrop of this battle royal in the West Wing that has been laid bare by Ryan Lizza's "New Yorker" reporting and interview with Anthony Scaramucci and Chris's interview yesterday with Anthony Scaramucci. I'll play you just one excerpt about how he seems to be very, very focused on the leaks coming out of the White House. That's his top of priority. He told Ryan Lizza they'll all be fired by me. I fired one guy the other day. I have three to four people I'll fire tomorrow. I'll get the person who leaked that to you. Reince Priebus, if you want to leak something, he'll be asked to resign very shortly. How's this playing out with the president's agenda?
DAVID DRUCKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I don't think it's playing very well. Alisyn, I think this is emblematic of the problem the White House has had in terms of trying to have an impact on the president's agenda on Capitol Hill. The White House seems wholly consumed by that which bothers Donald Trump, the president. He doesn't like leaks, he doesn't like disloyalty. And the White House is singularly focused on addressing problems that annoy President Trump, and they've drop the ball when it comes to presidential leadership on the Hill.
There's plenty of blame to go and. Mitch McConnell deserves blame, Senate and House Republicans collectively, even though House Republicans passed a bill, they're all a part of this mess at the end of the day.
[08:10:00] But the X factor in getting big things like this done is always the presidency because it's the one adult in the room that can corral wayward members of a party, even possibly bring members of another party because of a national base of support. It's the one person in the room that was elected by the country and not by a state or a district.
And in this case, President Trump has really been absent from the public stage in creating the public space for Senate Republicans to take the tough votes, to do things they may not want to do for, in a sense, the greater policy and political good from the point of view of Republicans when it comes to replacing repealing Obamacare.
And look at how vital Republican the really think repealing Obamacare is politically. Mitch McConnell's a very keen electoral operator. He looks at elections. They're always very important to him. And yet he was pushing, he was trying to jam his own members to vote for a bill that is very unpopular. And then when that failed, he was trying to jam them on a bill that would raise premiums 20 percent just to keep the process alive. That's how important Republicans believe repealing and replacing Obamacare is to their prospects in the 2018 midterm elections, that they were willing to do all of these things just to get to the next step, and it all came crashing down, and now they have to figure out what's next. And I don't think they know.
CUOMO: But it's all a window into what the original propositions problem was. It was that the idea is not just to repeal or replace, but to make better. And if you're going to raise premiums and people are going to lose care, how is that better? Even Republicans had to own that on top of party loyalty.
But all the roads lead back to the White House. There's a reason this was never called Trumpcare, and it's not a good reason. Obamacare was called that because the president had a leadership role. Here the president didn't seem to have one, and it raises the question of who gets blamed for that.
JOSH GREEN, SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, "BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK": Well, there were two factors here. One is if you talk to lawmakers who spoke personally to Trump about this, he had some dinners in the White House, it was clear that he didn't really understand what was in his own bill. I think that sent a worrying signal to a lot of lawmakers.
The second thing is publicly he would come out and threaten and lean on members like Dean Heller of Nevada, but then turn around and say the same bill he had been threatening in the past was mean. So it wasn't clear where Trump wanted to go exactly. And the other problem is it's also clear that Trump didn't care particularly about health care policy, at least not as much as Russia, shutting down leak investigations. I thought Scaramucci's interviews with you guys yesterday morning and with Ryan Lizza last night or two nights ago were a real reflection of what is on Trump's mind. And health care I'm pretty sure was a subject that didn't come up in either of those interviews.
CAMEROTA: David Drucker, in terms of the White House chief of staff, I know that you're not in the prognostication business, but does Reince Priebus survive the next week?
DRUCKER: That's a very good question. I think part of the lack of leadership coming from the White House has been ta there has been no chain of command in addressing all of these priorities. Reince Priebus is going to get a lot of blame for the failure of health care. As Chris pointed out, he was brought in because he was the Washington guy that knew the players and could help facilitate things.
But it all starts at the top. And when the president brings in a so called communications director, and that communications director does not report up the chain of command to the chief of staff but reports directly to the president and then starts going around the chief of staff, threatening to fire everybody, outing the chief of staff as he sees it as being a leaker, there's no way you can present a united front and work with your party on the hill to actually get anything done, because Republicans on the hill are looking at this chaos, and they're saying to themselves, these guys don't know what they're doing, they can't be trusted, and if things go south, they're not going to have my back because they don't have each other's back.
It's a war over there. And this is a big fail. And if the president wants to right the ship he's got to decide who's in charge, create a chain of command, and he's got to then let people go through that chain of command and he's got to tell everybody else to shut up. And in some ways, he should start with himself and make sure that his tweets, which do have an impact and have an ability to reach people, are more focused, more -- and more open towards pushing his policies and not towards pushing his own personal agenda.
CUOMO: Scaramucci said what he said. He gave Lizza a one heck of a story, but he, I think it's fair to say, is a symptom of the disease, no the disease itself. It's been going on for a long time in this White House. It seems the one thing that may bring the Republicans together right now is they've all been asking the president to stop, stop going after their own, what he did to Jeff Sessions, stop the madness in his own White House. We'll see if he can get them to do it.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: The day is young. Panel, thank you very much for all of the insights.
CUOMO: All right. So, what is even a possibility when it comes to bipartisan work to deliver better health care for people? Isn't that what's supposed to be the goal? We're going to talk to a Republican congressman next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: And as I said, we look forward to our colleagues on the other side suggesting what they have in mind. So, now, Mr. President, it's time to move on.
(END VIDEO CLIP) CAMEROTA: All right. That was Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell moments after a very dramatic vote on Capitol Hill. It happened early this morning and it was a stunning no vote from Senator John McCain sinking the GOP's effort to repeal Obamacare. What's next?
Joining us now is Republican Congressman Scott Taylor of Virginia to talk about this and much more.
Good morning, Congressman.
REP. SCOTT TAYLOR (R), VIRGINIA: Good morning, Alisyn. How are you?
CAMEROTA: I'm well. I don't what time you went to sleep, but what was your reaction when you saw John McCain get up and give that very dramatic thumbs-down?
TAYLOR: Well, I didn't say that, I didn't say. But I obviously this morning, I woke up to the news, but I'm certainly disappointed, of course. What happened last night doesn't help the folks that are hurting under this law, businesses and individuals across the country and certainly in my district.
[08:20:04] So, hopefully, we can work together and get something that addresses those issues.
CAMEROTA: Do you think that the turmoil in the White House that has been so colorfully outlined in places like "The New Yorker", yesterday, here, the new Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci kind of laid it out. Do you think that has been getting in the way of successful legislation and the president's agenda?
TAYLOR: At times, yes, of course. You know, listen, I think some of -- I know there as efforts from the White House to try to get some of these senators, of course, to get on board.
Relationships matter. No matter where you are, no matter what form, whether it's business or in the private sector or in government, relationships matter. So, there's no question about that that some of that could hinder the ability to get the legislation passed.
CAMEROTA: Look, I mean, if the chief of staff, Reince Priebus, is locked in a battle royal with the communications director, how can he be doing his job effectively?
TAYLOR: Well, let me just say, I mean, obviously, if we want to do big things, if we want to do big things here in Congress, of course, we need a partner in the White House and certainly the staff to help corral some of those folks and put -- you know, move things along. So, there's no question that they're -- if they're distracted in some way and not focused on doing things for the American people, then that could obviously hinder the ability to get successful legislation passed.
CAMEROTA: Let's talk about something that did come out of the White House this week. You, we should remind our viewers -- you were a Navy SEAL, you're an Iraq war veteran. What do you think when the president tweeted out he want to the ban transgender soldiers from the military?
TAYLOR: Honestly, we were very taken aback. You know, you shouldn't be pushing policy out, obviously, via tweets. From what I understand of ours we went right in to try to find out information from DOD and they didn't have the information either.
So, personally, I don't support the ban. I think that if someone is medically physically psychologically ready to serve and they meet all those standards, they should be able to serve. Now, obviously, there's one question in there in terms of, you know, paying for surgery. Well, if you need to have that elective surgery, you're not physically psychologically ready to serve.
There's a standard there in the military. There should be equality in standard, for sure, but at the same time, if folks meet all the standards, then they should have the ability to serve the nation that we all love. So, I was troubled by it. There's no question.
CAMEROTA: You know, the president, one of his rationales that he said was that the military, I'll just paraphrased it very quickly, cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military world entail.
That is not supported by the facts. Any sorts of medical costs for treatment are negligible compared --
TAYLOR: Well, I have to push back on that a little bit on that because, yes, that is true in terms of overall budget and spending and stuff like that, but again, the military is supposed to be a lethal, disciplined fighting force. If you're not ready to serve, you know, to come in and be ready to meet all those standards, then you shouldn't come in. And that means if, you know, if you have a medical ailment, or anything, you know --
CAMEROTA: Of course, but why are you assuming a transgender soldier has a medical ailment? I mean, or is not ready to serve?
TAYLOR: All right. Don't put words in my mouth like that, please.
As I said before, I don't support the ban on transgender. If they are ready to go -- if you sign up for an enlistment, you sign for enlistment for three to four years, or whatever it is, but you come in and no matter who you are, whatever it is, and you decide or you want to be able to have surgery that puts you out of commission for up to a year, and potentially precludes you from serving in some places where you're supposed to do. That's not fair. That is not fair to the soldiers that are on your left or your right. That is unacceptable to me.
TAYLOR: Now, that has nothing to do with the ban. That's a different thing and I wouldn't say -- I wouldn't use the words, OK, it's medical cost. But disruption, yes. You have to have a quality in standard and you have to have discipline to have a fighting force.
CAMEROTA: Yes, of course.
TAYLOR: So, that's something I don't support. I don't support the ban either. If folks are ready to go, come serve.
CAMEROTA: So, what does that have to do with the 4,000 transgender soldiers that are in the military?
TAYLOR: Well, from what I understand as I said I didn't agree with how that was rolled out of course in a tweet. And I did hear that General Dunford said they won't be affected, and good. They shouldn't be affected in that way, because, obviously, there's heroic, honorable service happening right now by folks who are transgender in the service right now. So, I hope that that continues, that they won't have disruption.
CAMEROTA: So, why is the president doing this?
TAYLOR: I can't answer that question. You'll have to ask him.
CAMEROTA: Why do you think, on a very busy week, with health care in the fore, that the president would send out these tweets and focus on transgender soldiers?
TAYLOR: Again, I can't answer that question.
[08:25:00] You're going to have to ask the White House. I have no idea, you know? But I told you my position on it.
CAMEROTA: And have you told the president or have you told the White House your thoughts as a veteran?
TAYLOR: Well, I'm saying that here publicly on national live interview with you and we certainly put out a statement right away.
CAMEROTA: Yes. Congressman Scott Taylor, thank you for your service. Thank you very much for sharing all of your thoughts on this.
TAYLOR: No problem. Have a great day.
CAMEROTA: You too.
CUOMO: All right. So, the Democrats have to figure out what they do going forward. The Republicans failed. You didn't see huge cheering from the Democrats. There are calls on both sides to work together.
So, what are the Democrats prepared to do? We have one of their senators who voted late last night, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCONNELL: So, it's time for our friends on the other side to tell us what they have in mind. And we'll see how the American people feel about their ideas.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell turning to Democrat the to offer their own ideas after the Republicans' last ditch effort to repeal Obamacare failed.
Let's discuss the way forward with Democratic Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland.