Following seven years of campaign promises, House Republican leadership proposed a secretly negotiated, lobbyist written monstrosity in the spring of 2017 that failed to even come up for a vote.
The legislation was pulled, rewritten, and passed by the slimmest margin. Weeks passed while the Senate Republican leadership secretly negotiated a second version of the bill. They reintroduced the legislation, received the same backlash, and pulled it from the voting schedule once more. But, they said, this Lazarus will not be brought back to life. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said Tuesday that the Senate’s healthcare bill is dead.
By capitalizing on the slim 52 vote Republican majority in the Senate, Republican Senators Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ted Cruz of Texas, and Mike Lee of Utah were able to successfully block it.
These three “no” votes meant that McConnell now has no hope of passing the Better Care Reconciliation Act. Republicans, therefore, have a singular choice for healthcare reform: Repealing Obamacare.
McConnell appears to have has accepted that inevitability. His office put out a statement that the Senate will vote on a bill to repeal President Obama’s Affordable Care Act after two years:
In the coming days, the Senate will take up and vote on a repeal of Obamacare combined with a stable, two-year transition period as we work toward patient-centered health care. A majority of the Senate voted to pass the same repeal legislation in 2015. President Obama vetoed it then. President Trump will sign it now.
Passing the repeal legislation will allow us to accomplish what we need to do on behalf of our people. Our Democratic friends have spoken a lot recently about wanting bipartisan solutions. Passing this legislation will provide the opportunity for Senators of all parties to engage, with a fresh start, with a new beginning for the American people.
It appears that McConnell was reluctant to move forward with a clean repeal. Nonetheless, it is encouraging that conservatives are leading the establishment for once. And that’s the only way that the Republican Party can actually get anything done. Passing a clean repeal of Obamacare, even if it’s going to be delayed two years, is a welcome start.
Whether or not this will include rewriting the rules of the Senate to limit the filibuster is yet to be announced. Democrats and Republicans routinely limit the opposition party’s power in order to accomplish their goals. This wouldn’t be the first time that the rules have been changed and it won’t be the last. McConnell ought not be afraid of that firestorm, considering that the one brewing over Republicans’ lack of action is much more consequential.
And without the filibuster repealed, there is nothing stopping a united Republican party from repealing Obamacare outright. Yes, the GOP is certainly far from united.
But Senate Republicans have already voted to repeal Obamacare before. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, was the only Republican to vote against repealing Obamacare. Even if Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, or another moderate Republican bows out, McConnell should still be able to muster fifty votes and count on Mike Pence to break the tie.
Repealing Obamacare in its entirety will be the most significant campaign promise kept in decades. It will go a long way towards restoring confidence in the Republican Party.
(Photo of Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, Senate Majority Whip Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, after the weekly Senate Republican Policy Luncheon on July 11, 2017, by Alex Wong/Getty Images.)