The opportunity for the GOP to dismantle Obamacare with a party-line vote expires at the end of this month. But Senate Republicans are ready to throw in the towel on holding another Obamacare repeal vote.
President Trump and some Senate Republicans have been pushing a plan that was initiated by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) to block grant federal health care funding to the states and keep much of Obamacare’s taxes. But it seems as though passing the legislation by the end of the month is next to impossible.
The bill is not finished, there is no Congressional Budget Office score, and some within the GOP are working with Democrats on a bipartisan plan that would sure up insurance markets. The bottom line is that Republicans don’t have a plan that can get 50 votes.
So the promised dream of repealing Obama’s health care law is fading away, and the Republicans just seem to be focusing on tax reform.
“We’ve seen that we don’t have 51 votes to do it, so we’re going to have to do it bipartisan,” said Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas. When he was asked whether the Senate would take an Obamacare repeal vote before the Senate’s budget reconciliation instructions expire, Cornyn simply said, “I don’t believe so.”
Sen. Orin Hatch (R-Utah) confirmed that sentiment, “I don’t think there’s much of a chance.” He’s the Senate Finance Committee Chairman. “I think that was pretty well decided by McCain.” Sen. McCain (R-Ariz.) voted down the GOP’s repeal effort in July, opposing the “skinny” repeal bill.
The GOP’s party-line repeal attempts expire after September 30th because of Senate parliamentarian rules. Republicans could write new ones, but they want to use the next budget reconciliation attempt to overhaul the tax code with just 50 votes. Reconciliation allows the Senate majority to bypass a Democratic filibuster and the chamber’s 60-vote threshold.
President Trump and Sens. Cassidy and Graham are not giving up. They are still painfully aware of the party’s seven-year promise to repeal the law and are hoping that the effort is not over.
“Mitch had said if we get 50 votes he’ll bring it up. The president is all in. And we think we’re going to have governor support. Between it all, I think we can put it together,” Cassidy said in an interview.
“This problem is not going away. I’ve been part of those discussions and am working with those as well. I think it’s got a great deal of appeal,” said Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.). “I know the time is short.”
Kellyanne Conway, an adviser to Trump, said this week that the president would sign the Graham-Cassidy bill. And Sen. Graham said that the president “loves” the block grant idea.
The best news for those pushing the repeal vote is that McCain said that he would support it. “A flip-flop vote from McCain could literally mean the end of Obamacare,” the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee wrote in a fundraising email on Thursday. “We can’t let our guard down on Obamacare repeal until the September 30 deadline — not even for a minute and definitely not now that McCain is switching sides.”
But now, McCain’s office has stated that he preferred not to use the Republican’s closed repeal process to rebuild the health care system. So it is likely that the Republican’s long effort to dismantle Obamacare is down to its last breath.
Do you think there will be a party-line vote before the end of the month?