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After the GOP bill to replace Obamacare was pulled Friday, Sen. Mike Lee celebrated.
"The decision to pull this bill was a sound, commonsense one," said Lee, who had been the lone member of Utah's all-Republican delegation pushing back against the legislation championed by President Donald Trump.
Lee had led the charge to defeat or significantly alter the American Health Care Act, pressing instead for a more robust overhaul of Obamacare. He saw the bill as a poor compromise.
"It is a missed opportunity and a step in the wrong direction," Lee said at the bill's March 6 debut.
The conservative senator met with White House officials multiple times over the past three weeks, including at Mar-a-Lago, Trump's weekend retreat in Florida, attempting to negotiate a more conservative plan. Most of those conversations ended in frustration as Lee refused to give in to building pressure to settle on the plan.
After the bill was pulled Friday in the face of near-certain defeat in the House, Lee pledged to work on new legislation to remake the nation's health care law, including a full repeal of all regulations included in former President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, passed in 2010.
He said the version he envisions "will reduce costs, save taxpayers money and make our health care system great again," a play on Trump's "Make America Great Again" slogan.
Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, who as chairman of the Finance Committee would have been instrumental in moving the legislation through the Senate, was far less celebratory Friday. He had commended the attempt to repeal Obamacare and had pledged to support the Trump-backed measure.
"Repealing and replacing Obamacare to free Americans from its skyrocketing costs, burdensome taxes and punitive mandates is something Republicans have long promised families across the country," he said in a statement Friday.
And though the state's representatives all Republicans had been reluctant to express how they would vote on the measure earlier this week, they lamented the bill's withdrawal.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who had been leaning toward a "yes" vote while reserving "the right to change my mind" said Obamacare is "in a death spiral" and wants to see it replaced.
"Unfortunately, today we couldn't come to a consensus on what that plan should look like," he said. "But we need to get there. The status quo is not sustainable."
Utah's lone unequivocal supporter of the GOP bill in the House was discouraged Friday.
"We worked very hard to bring the American people better health care options," said Rep. Chris Stewart, "and I'm very disappointed in this outcome."
Stewart postponed a town hall in Utah slated for Friday so he could stay in Washington to vote on the bill.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office had calculated that while the replacement measure would cut the federal spending on health care, it would result in 24 million Americans losing health-care coverage.
Rep. Mia Love had met with Trump to work out her concerns with the bill. She called it "unfortunate that this opportunity has passed to bring health care to a vote."
More resolute in his disdain for Obamacare than the GOP plan to replace it, Rep. Rob Bishop also regrets that "today we did not start down the road to repeal and replace" it. The congressman blamed the Affordable Care Act for rising premium costs and federal penalties for the uninsured.
"I understand the pains of Obamacare firsthand. I, too, was forced into it," he said. "This bill would have been a step forward for all those who seek quality, affordable and accessible health care."