NPR logo VP Pence On Obamacare Repeal Failure: 'Congress Just Wasn't Ready'

VP Pence On Obamacare Repeal Failure: 'Congress Just Wasn't Ready'

Vice President Mike Pence is seen at a rally in January in Washington, D.C., on the National Mall before the start of the 44th annual March for Life. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images hide caption

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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Vice President Mike Pence is seen at a rally in January in Washington, D.C., on the National Mall before the start of the 44th annual March for Life.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Vice President Mike Pence traveled to West Virginia Saturday where he met with small business owners before delivering public remarks, which included some lines about repealing Barack Obama's health care law, a day after Republicans efforts to gut the Affordable Care Act went down in flames.

"West Virginia and President Trump, we all know the truth about this failed law, that every day Obamacare survives is another day that America suffers," Pence told a crowd gathered at a Charleston construction supply company.

In his remarks Pence praised the president's "resolve" and said Trump worked "tirelessly over the last couple weeks to get Congress to repeal and replace" the health care law.

He also gave House Speaker Paul Ryan a shout out, saying that both he and the President are grateful to Ryan and all the House Republicans who led the push to "begin the end of Obamacare."

Up to that point, it seemed as if the vice president was delivering remarks to build support for the American Health Care Act, the bill Ryan penned that was pulled indefinitely Friday afternoon ahead of a scheduled vote. The bill was supposed to make good on years of Republican campaign promises to finally start the dismantling of Barack Obama's signature law.

As NPR reported earlier this week, Republicans did not need Democratic support to prevail. In fact, the Republican leadership could have lost up to 22 GOP votes and still passed the bill.

Pence, perhaps reflecting on the enormity of the loss, paused before acknowledging what took place Friday afternoon.

"But as we all learned yesterday Congress just wasn't ready. You saw it."

As NPR's Jessica Taylor reported Friday, it was clear House Republicans had defections "from both the right and the center" ensuring the bill would fail, even before a single vote was cast.

Echoing remarks President Trump made from the Oval Office on Friday after the GOP bill was dumped, Pence attempted to blame Democrats for the GOP-led bill's failure.

"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."

Former World Wrestling Entertainment head Linda McMahon, who now leads the Trump Administration's Small Business Administration, accompanied Pence at the event.

At one point, the vice president singled her out and joked her expertise could have been used in Washington a day earlier.

"You know Linda, we're grateful to your leadership, but maybe we could have used some of your WWE superstars on Capitol Hill yesterday."