WASHINGTON -- For years, Reps. Chris Collins and Tom Reed took every opportunity to bash Obamacare as a failure.
But, after House Republicans failed Friday in their attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, the two GOP lawmakers from Western New York offered vastly different reactions to their party's failure.
Collins focused on his disappointment. Reed focused on the future, as Democrats from the state reveled in watching the implosion of the first major legislative effort of the Republican Congress under President Trump, a Republican.
“I am extremely disappointed with today’s result,” said Collins, of Clarence, in a statement. “This bill, while not perfect, was a solution that would have ended the Obamacare nightmare that Western New Yorkers have had to endure for too long. By increasing competition and giving people the power to make their own choices with their own health care, the American Health Care Act would have been a drastic improvement over the healthcare system Obamacare has left us with."
Reed said in an interview that he hoped the bill's failure -- which stemmed from moderate Republicans and hard-line conservatives being unable to come together -- would offer a lesson to all Republican members.
"Maybe we can learn that getting 80 percent of what you want is pretty good, rather than making the perfect be the enemy of the good," said Reed, R-Corning. "Hopefully we can come out of this stronger and learning a lot."
Reed said Obamacare's problems may have to grow worse before Congress attempts to change the program again. He also said Republicans should consider working with Democrats to improve the health law.
"Maybe it's time to have a serious conversation, to go to people on the Democratic side," Reed said.
Democrats -- especially Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer -- didn't sound as if they were in a deal-making mood.
“Ultimately, the TrumpCare bill failed because of two traits that have plagued the Trump presidency since he took office: incompetence and broken promises," said Schumer, D-N.Y., in a statement. "In my life, I have never seen an administration as incompetent as the one occupying the White House today.
“They can’t write policy that actually makes sense, they can’t implement the policies they do manage to write, they can’t get their stories straight, and today we’ve learned that they can’t close a deal, and they can’t count votes," Schumer added. “So much for the Art of the Deal."
Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo, didn't exactly sympathize with the self-defeated Republicans, either.
"This was driven disproportionally by ideology, and the president went along for the ride," Higgins said. "And ultimately, this bill got exposed for what it was: a massive takeaway of coverage and dignity from the American people."
The bill's death also killed the amendment that Collins and Rep. John Faso, R-Kinderhook, got attached to the legislation, which would have required New York State to stop forcing upstate and Long Island counties to partially fund the Medicaid program.
But the debate over the amendment lived on thanks to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who spent the week attacking the amendment as a cheap way to buy votes for the overall measure -- and an expensive burden on New York State.
"We saw Members of Congress openly bribe one-another at the expense of their own constituents, racing each other to decimate New York’s healthcare system while attempting to ram through a piece of legislation that would jeopardize the healthcare of 24 million people and supported by only 17 percent of Americans," Cuomo said in a statement.
Collins responded in a statement from his spokesman that attacked both Cuomo and Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul.
“The Governor and his sidekick have been unmasked," said the Collins spokesman, Michael McAdams. "They could care less about letting the hardworking families of Western New York keep more of their hard-earned money. Now, Western New Yorkers know where Cuomo and Hochul stand on the issues important to them, and they won’t forget any time soon.”
Collins vowed in his statement to keep up the fight for removing the Medicaid burden from the backs of people who pay county property taxes.
“Despite today’s result, this process has provided the opportunity to push for reforms vital to Western New York, specifically my amendment to force Albany to end its unfunded mandate on New York’s counties once and for all," Collins said. "I will continue advocating for that critical measure going forward and will remain resolute in my commitment to the taxpayers in my district.”