Updated July 29th, 2017
The latest development in the ongoing GOP healthcare bill saga continued today with the news of the Monday night tandem “no” vote announcements from Republican Senators Mike Lee of Utah and Jerry Moran of Kansas. The dissension of just one more senator would have been enough to effectively end Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s hopes of passing the GOP’s revised health care bill BCRA with the necessary 50 yes votes that was required. That there were two additional “no” votes added to the “no” votes of Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Sen. Susan Collins of Maine simply put the final nails in the coffin of the Republican’s bid to repeal and replace Obamacare.
The news may have come as a surprise to the President and Republican Majority Leader McConnell, or so it seemed, but not to several other GOP senators who on and off the record stated to the press that they have been struggling with passing the most recent version of the GOP health care bill despite the latest revisions to the bill. Revisions with which McConnell had hoped to appease both moderate and stricter conservative leaning Republican senator’s concerns and get the bill passed.
Not long after the two Republican senators late night joint dissent announcements, Majority Leader McConnell issued a statement saying, “Regretfully, it is now apparent that the effort to repeal and immediately replace the failure of Obamacare will not be successful.”
“So, in the coming days, the Senate will vote to take up the House bill with the first amendment in order being what a majority of the Senate has already supported in 2015 and that was vetoed by then-President Obama: a repeal of Obamacare with a two-year delay to provide for a stable transition period to a patient-centered health care system that gives Americans access to quality, affordable care.”
What this means is that McConnell intends to utilize a series of procedural actions that would first involve revisiting the repeal and replace bill that the House passed in May 2015 (that Obama vetoed), which then would open the door to the introduction of an amendment to replace the entire text of the bill and replace it with a bill which would repeal the Affordable Care Act in its entirety and set in place a two year deadline for the creation of a replacement health care act.
At the time of the vote on the repeal bill, while Obama was still in office, the Republicans did not give the measure much weight in their voting deliberations because it was a certain fact that Obama would veto the measure anyway. The House passed the bill with all of the Republicans in tow, with the exception of the two senators, and as expected the President vetoed it.
The two Republican holdouts were Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois, who is no longer a serving U.S. Senator (defeated in his bid for 2016 re-election), and Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, both of whom stated at the time that they could not support the repeal bill without a viable replacement for the ACA.
Upon realizing the GOP BCRA (Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017) bill was in its own death spiral, Republican Majority Leader McConnell quickly came out today (Tuesday) stating he will soon be bringing a clean repeal bill to the floor for a vote next week. But, there are still opposing forces in the Republican Party to Mitch McConnell’s last ditch effort to put Obamacare to rest.
Three Republican Senators quickly came out publically to say that they would vote against the motion to proceed, these senators include Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, and Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.
All three senators have publically expressed varying degrees of concern for their constituents, many of whom rely greatly on the ACA for their health care premium credits, cost-sharing subsidies, and the Medicaid expansion dollars their respective states receive. Add to that their supposition that repealing the Affordable Care Act without an acceptable replacement bill to replace the ACA will send insurance markets into utter chaos. It remains to be seen if other Republican senators will follow suit, but is strongly suspected will occur, effectively ending McConnell’s repeal pursuits, at least for now.
President Donald Trump has said he is very disappointed that the Republicans did not live up to their promise to repeal and replace the ACA as they have promised the American people for the last seven years they would do. But, Trump also said that neither Republicans, nor will he own Obamacare. Speaking from the Whitehouse the president went on to say, “I think we’re probably in that position where we’ll let Obamacare fail.” Trump said, “We’re not going to own it. I’m not going to own it. I can tell you, the Republicans are not going to own it.”
Trump later tweeted that once Obamacare fails then Democrats will come together with Republicans to “do a great healthcare plan” and to “Stay tuned!” President Trump can be sure the American people will “stay tuned” but not in the favorable way he seems to think they will. After years of campaigning on repealing the ACA and winning control of each branch of government, it is widely held opinion that voters will hold Republicans and Trump responsible for failing to produce a health care plan that provides relief for the health care consumers of America.
Where The GOP Goes From Here
Senator John McCain immediately took time out from his recovery from surgery to issue a statement on what is the best way for Republicans to proceed now that BCRA has failed to muster enough votes to bring it to the floor for a vote.
McCain’s statement reads: “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. As this law continues to crumble in Arizona and states across the country, we must not repeat the original mistakes that led to Obamacare’s failure. The Congress must now return to regular order, hold hearings, receive input from members of both parties, and heed the recommendations of our nation’s governors so that we can produce a bill that finally provides Americans with access to quality and affordable health care.”
However, Senator McCain’s approach does not seem to mirror that of the President or Mitch McConnell. Senate Majority Leader McConnell has already initiated a redo of Obamacare repeal and replace discussions and it would seem intends to move forward with his procedural maneuvering to revisit the bill one way or another, despite three Republican Senators already publically stating they would vote against the motion to proceed.
After a luncheon with President Trump and the Senate GOP conference McConnell made a statement to reporters saying, “Next week we’ll be voting on the motion to proceed, and I have every expectation that we’ll be able to get on the bill.”
The Majority Leader did not immediately specify which procedural maneuver he will employ with the motion to proceed; addressing the Senate’s Obamacare replace and repeal bill (BCRA) or a clean repeal of Obamacare. But, as more Republicans got wind of Trump’s tone at the luncheon it appears that McConnell will be more likely to push for another improved Senate bill as Republicans reconsider what failing to deliver on their campaign promises to deliver a better health care plan may result in … their being DBA (dead before arrival) in the coming elections.