Another topsy-turvy week in Washington around Republican efforts to, in order: repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, then just repeal it, and then finally to open a vote on the Senate floor next week to see what happens.
“We’re going to vote on the motion to proceed to the bill next week,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Wednesday. It is still unclear if McConnell has the 50 votes need to proceed as four Republican Senators voiced opposition to beginning debate on a repeal-only bill as of Thursday afternoon. However, if the if the order to proceed is passed, what would then happen is anyone’s guess; the most likely scenario is that a version of the GOP’s reform bill will be moved and then Republican senators with concerns about certain parts of it will offer a flurry of amendments to craft a national healthcare reform bill on the fly. All Democrats are opposed to the Republican effort to pass a version of the GOP Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA).
On Monday enough GOP senators said they would oppose their party’s repeal-and-replace healthcare bill, causing McConnell to admit defeat and pull the measure. On Monday night, President Trump tweeted that “Republicans should just REPEAL failing ObamaCare” and start from a clean slate. McConnell on Monday said he would call for a repeal-only vote.
On Tuesday, some GOP Senators objected to repeal only, with West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito saying, “I did not come to Washington to hurt people.” On Tuesday, Trump tweeted that we should just let “ObamaCare fail” to force both parties to come together to create something new.
But on Wednesday, the president held a dinner for Republican Senators at the White House imploring them pass a repeal-and-replace bill. The issue was further complicated on Wednesday when the GOP’s slim Senate majority was affected by the unfortunate news that Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) was battling brain cancer, and that his return to Washington was uncertain.
Later on Wednesday, McConnell said there would be a vote to proceed next week.