What a difference a day makes in Washington. While there is never a shortage of political theater on either side of the aisle, the past 36 hours on the Hill have been more like a bad reality show, even by D.C. standards, with all the varied responses from the President and Republicans on the failure of the GOP health care bill (BCRA).
Republican response to their latest bill initiative failure has so far shown not only have they been unsuccessful in crafting health care legislation that their own party can get behind, but apparently they can’t come to a consensus on what comes next either.
After the joint “no vote” announcement of two additional Republican Senators on Monday, it seemed the GOP’s replace and repeal bill (BCRA) ended before it got started. But, after Senator Mike Lee of Utah and Senator Jerry Moran of Kansas effectively put an end to any chance of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reaching the necessary 50 votes to pass the repeal and replacement bill on Obamacare the responses from President Trump and McConnell were hard to keep pace with. A neck brace for the whiplash may have been helpful to observers (the American people).
Upon first learning of the dissention of two more Republican Senators on the GOP health care bill Donald Trump’s reaction varied from “annoyed” and then “disappointed” to “not owning Obamacare” and “let Obamacare fail” before ending his day of response statements and tweets by telling Americans to “stay tuned!”.
Thus leaving Americans and the insurance industry once again not having a clear picture of what the Republicans and he would do about a health care plan, or what it meant for the current law in place (Obamacare).
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s reaction was not quite so fluid, but not much clearer than Trump on what would come next. After learning of the two additional no votes from Senators Mike Lee and Jerry Moran, McConnell issued a press statement acknowledging the bills lack of support, but also said he would pursue procedural maneuvering to revisit the 2015 bill Congress passed (Obama vetoed) with a motion to proceed. He also briefly intimated that there were other pressing Trump initiatives to be focusing on as well, referring to overhauling the tax structure, should the Republicans decide to simply let Obamacare fail.
The Majority Leader will still need 50 yes votes to pass the motion to proceed and then repeal the ACA with a two year fixed deadline to create new health care legislation to replace it with. However, even with the procedural maneuvering for a motion to proceed it’s very uncertain he will be able to get the 50 needed votes; at least that’s where things stood on the Hill at the moment on Monday.
Add to the show the fact that Senator John McCain of Arizona, who is recovering from surgery, and who was recently diagnosed with malignant brain cancer, wasted no time in adding yet another scenario, when he released a statement in which he said, “One of the major problems with Obamacare was that it was written on a strict party-line basis and driven through Congress without a single Republican vote.” He also said that Republicans “must not repeat the original mistakes that led to Obamacare’s failure.” Some political observers see this as Sen. McCain’s way of trying to bring Democrats into the health care discussion. One has to wonder if he ran that statement by the President or Leader McConnell before opening that door.
In order for Senator McCain’s suggestion to happen that would probably mean rather than replacing and repealing Obamacare, Republicans and Democrats would jointly craft new legislation to “fix” the existing Obamacare law. But, given how far apart the majority of Republicans and Democrats are on the issues of health care that’s about as likely to happen as President Trump is to stop tweeting.
As the President tweeted on Monday night, and as tomorrow is another day on the Capitol Hill show, stay tuned folks!