It’s all up to the Republican Senators now, and it may take weeks before they are ready to bring the repeal and replace Obamacare bill to the floor for a vote. The Senior Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, Ron Wyden (D-Ore), said, “The proposal that is coming from the House doesn’t have a pulse in terms of Senate Democrats,” so there is no hope for any bi-partisan resuscitation. And the Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), cautioned Tuesday that getting a healthcare bill through the Senate would be “a real big challenge.”
One of the main concerns many Senate Republicans have is the cap on Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion that would take effect in 2020. Some are troubled by the analysis that the bill would significantly cut federal subsidies for people between the ages of 50 and 65. Almost all the Senate Republicans say that the bill in its current form cannot pass, and some have even questioned whether it will ever get to a floor vote.
The more moderate members of the Republican Senate are concerned that there’s not enough expansion in Medicaid and too much reduction in subsidies, and the conservative members are ready to resist as well. Sen. Paul Rand (R-Ky.) believes that changes to the legislation insisted on by members of the House Freedom Caucus improved the bill, but he’s still not satisfied. “I really frankly am not too excited about subsidizing the profit of insurance companies,” Paul told Fox News. “There’s about $300 or $400 billion in this bill for insurance company profit,” he added. “It boggles my mind how that became a Republican idea.”
The Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, has pulled together a team who represent differing approaches to healthcare so that they can hash out their differences and come to a consensus before the vote. This working unit includes moderates and conservatives. The two key committee chairmen are Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.). Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) has been working closely with Alexander in recent months and may prove to be a key in getting the compromise accomplished.
The margin of error is slim. The Republicans can only afford to lose two of their party’s votes. In light of how dedicated the White House team was in getting the House vote done, it will be interesting to see the role that the president and vice president play in this process.
Do you think that the Republican Senate can face this test and come out with a victory?
Credit: The Hill