Republicans Try to Repeal Obamacare With Something


United States Capitol Building. Wikimedia Commons.

Update: On Friday, July 28, the senate ended a voting marathon that began the previous day with Republican Senators McCain, Murkowski, and Collins joining the 48 Senate Democrats to vote against “skinny repeal” of the Affordable Care Act.

On Tuesday, July 26, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pushed for the Senate to vote on a motion to proceed the Republicans’ plan to repeal former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act to debate on the Senate floor. While the Republicans began to vote on the motion to proceed the Senate’s Democrats sustained from voting until every Republican senator voted. Democrat senators, blasted the very notion of voting on the motion to proceed before being told which version of the Republicans’ plan to repeal- including whether or not it included a replacement for Obama’s Affordable Care Act- they were actually voting on.

The vote on the Republicans’ bill paused after 48 senators voted in favor of the motion to proceed and two senators- Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Susan Collins (R-ME)- voted to oppose. The pause was to wait on the arrival of Senators Ron Johnson (R-WI) and John McCain (R-AZ) to the senate.

McCain who had just been diagnosed with glioblastoma- an aggressive form of cancer that originates in the brain- had only announced the night before that he would be returning to the senate for the vote. Though both men opposed the process the bill had been drafted under they both voted in favor of the motion to proceed.

After all 48 Democrats in the senate voted against the motion to proceed Vice President Mike Pence cast a tie-breaking vote in favor of the motion to proceed.

Following the vote McCain gave a speech on the senate floor blasting the senate for being unable to get anything done since the beginning of this year and called for renewed bipartisanship.

“We’ve been spinning our wheels on too many important issues because we keep trying to find a way to win without help from across the aisle,” McCain said. “That’s an approach that’s been employed by both sides, mandating legislation from the top down, without any support from the other side, with all the parliamentary maneuvers that requires.”

McCain added that despite voting on the motion to proceed he did not support the bill in it’s current form.

“I will not vote for the bill as it is today,” McCain said. “I have changes urged by my state’s governor that will have to be included to earn my support for final passage of any bill.”

On Tuesday evening the senate voted on a comprehensive amendment to the bill that would repeal and replace Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Due to parliamentary objections that the amendment had not yet been scored by the congressional budget office the amendment required 60 votes to pass. However, the bill failed to receive even a simple majority receiving only 43 votes in support.

The senate parliamentarian had also ruled the week before that some amendments to the bill- including efforts to defund planned parenthood- would also require 60 votes to pass.

The following day; Wednesday, July 26, the senate voted on an amendment that would repeal the Affordable Care Act in two years with no replacement being passed. Only requiring a simple majority the bill failed with only 45 votes in favor of the repeal only plan.

In both votes on Tuesday evening and Wednesday Murkowski and Collins were joined by Senator Dean Collins (D-NV) in being the three Republican senators to oppose both amendments.

The final path for the Republicans’ repeal efforts- known as the “skinny repeal”- is to repeal certain parts of Obama’s Affordable Care Act including individual and employer mandates. The congressional budget office estimated that a “skinny repeal” would lead to 16 million more people would be uninsured by 2026 than under current law. Previous versions of the bill estimated that 23 million more people could be uninsured by 2026. A full repeal was estimated to lead to 32 million more people being uninsured by 2026 than under current law.

While a marathon of votes on amendments to the bill is expected to begin on Thursday, July 27, the actual text of the bill will not be revealed until closer to the final vote.