Congressional Republicans Abandon Effort to Repeal ObamaCare, Again
Congressional Republicans are 0 for 3 in their attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, the law also known as ObamaCare.
Senate leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced Tuesday Congressional Republicans are abandoning their latest effort after Maine senator Susan Collins became the third GOP senator to oppose the Graham-Cassidy bill.
Whether Congressional GOP decides to pursue this healthcare repeal and replace gamble again is anyone’s guess but their latest effort is an utter disaster. The Republicans including President Donald Trump made the repeal and replace of ObamaCare the signature issue of the 2016 presidential campaign.
Sources told The Liberal Advocate News that Republicans decided to abandon the repeal and replace effort during their caucus meeting Tuesday after it became clear they did not have the votes needed to pass it. They were hoping they could convince 50 GOP senators to support the bill, giving Vice President Mike Pence the opportunity to break the tie.
But with Sen. Collins joining all Senate Democrats, John McCain (R-AZ) and Rand Paul (R-KY) in opposition, the Republicans were short one vote. Meanwhile Ted Cruz (R-TX), Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) were hinting that they may not support the bill.
Monday night, the Republicans modified Graham-Cassidy to make it more palatable for Murkowski, Cruz and Lee to vote in favor but that did not satisfy the senators who announced they were still opposed.
“We don’t have the votes,” Louisiana Republican Senator Bill Cassidy said moments after the caucus meeting.
“We basically ran out of time,” said Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), a co-sponsor of the repeal bill, referring to the senate rule that allows the Republicans to pass Graham-Cassidy with 51 votes by Sept. 30 instead of the 60 votes it will take after that date.
Democrats are likely to filibuster the bill after Sept. 30 forcing the Republicans to come up with 60 votes, a task even Senate leader Sen. McConnell admitted is impossible.
While announcing the demise of the current bill, Republican leaders vowed that they will come back to healthcare once they complete tax overhaul, a task made more difficult by their inability to repeal and replace ObamaCare.
“We haven’t given up on changing the American health care system. We are not going to be able to do that this week,” McConnell told reporters Tuesday. “But it still lies ahead of us, and we haven’t given up on that.”
But Graham-Cassidy sponsors, Senators Lindsey graham (R-SC) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) said they would try again to change the healthcare system using the 2019 budget reconciliation process which would allow them to try to do it with 50 votes. They also promised to be more transparent in the process and reach out to Democrats as well.
“We basically ran out of time,” said Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), a co-sponsor of the repeal bill, referring to the senate rule that allows the Republicans to pass Graham-Cassidy with a simple 51 votes by Sept. 30 instead of the 60 votes it will take after that date.
GOP senators in Tuesday’s caucus meeting said the leadership didn’t try to twist any arms for more votes or even explain the decision to abandon the effort.
GOP Sen. Tim Scott said McConnell “didn’t try to explain the decision. It’s obvious — we don’t have the votes right now, you don’t vote until you have them.”
Meanwhile President Trump warned Congressional Republicans that he will work with Democrats if they fail to come up with a way to pass the healthcare bill.
Sources at Tuesday’s morning meeting said the president told the group he was elated with the recent deal he struck with Congressional Democratic leaders, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House minority leader Nancy pelosi (D-CA) to raise the debt ceiling and government spending.
“He made that clear that if he didn’t get what he wanted, he was going to work with Democrats on a plan,” Democratic Rep. Richard Neal told reporters.
But Sen. Graham laughed it off, arguing that Trump will not do anything that does not fully repeal and replace ObamaCare. “I think the President is not going to do anything that doesn’t repeal and replace Obamacare in a substantial way — don’t sell him short,” he told CNN.
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