The major defeat leaves Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., with no clear path to even altering a law he once promised to undo "root and branch." After voting down a repeal and replace proposal earlier this week, and then a "clean" repeal of Obamacare, Republicans couldn't even muster the votes for a fallback bill that would have made just a few changes and was mainly seen as a vehicle to get the bill into a conference with the House.
Ahead of a dramatic vote that was in doubt until the final minutes, Vice President Mike Pence was seen working Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., in the Senate chamber. McCain flew into Washington this week from Arizona, where he was resting after a diagnosis with brain cancer, to participate in healthcare votes -- and he ended up being a deciding vote against the bill. He joined Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine, as well as 48 Democrats, with the bill failing 51 to 49.
A disappointed McConnell thanked members of the Senate for their efforts to reach a compromise, but said, "I regret that our efforts were simply not enough at this time."
He declared, "It's time to move on."