McConnell to Set Obamacare Repeal Vote for Tuesday
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is expected to schedule a vote Tuesday to bring legislation to repeal Obamacare outright to the floor for debate in hopes of forcing Republicans to own their positions.
“Everybody has to be held personally accountable,” Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas told Politico. “Everybody is a good enough politician that if they’ve got a reason to justify their vote, they’ll be able to sell that.”
McConnell, the six-term Kentucky senator, is hoping that any strong public backlash from the procedural vote’s failure will force his conference back to the table.
“I don’t think it’s over” if Tuesday’s vote fails, said South Dakota Sen. John Thune, chairman of the Senate Republican Conference. “We’re going to need a little longer runway to get to 50 votes on something.
“Even if we fail on the procedural vote next week,” Thune said, “all that really does is say, ‘OK, we’ll regroup and then take another run at this.'”
McConnell’s Bluegrass State colleague, Sen. Rand Paul, agrees.
“We can do this for quite a while,” he told Politico.
Paul has long advocated a straightforward repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
The Senate last approved an Obamacare repeal in 2015, but it was vetoed by then-President Barack Obama.
McConnell said Wednesday that the procedural vote would go through despite objections from three moderate senators, Shelly Moore Capito of West Virginia, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.
“We cannot keep the commitment we made to the American people to repeal and replace Obamacare unless we get on the bill,” McConnell told reporters after a White House luncheon with President Donald Trump and other conference senators.
“So, next week, we’ll be voting to get on the bill.”
With a 52-48 majority, McConnell can only afford to lose two GOP senators, which would allow Vice President Mike Pence break a tie.
In addition, Arizona Sen. John McCain is recuperating from surgery after reports that he has brain cancer. His participation in Tuesday’s anticipated vote remains unclear.
But, “leaders have opened the door to the idea that if the margin is narrow, they could vote again when McCain could return to Washington,” Politico reports.
The strategy could work, versus simply pulling the legislation from the floor, and the vote could prove difficult for many senators.
“We’re going to find out if there’s hypocrisy in the United States Senate in the next few days,” Georgia Sen. David Perdue told Politico. “I don’t believe in situational ethics.
“So, if you thought it was a good idea to repeal when we had a president that probably would not have accepted it, what’s wrong with repealing it now when we have a president who would sign it into law?”