Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has at various points over the past few months threatened to block a vote on Obamacare repeal if his “Consumer Freedom” amendment is not included. But on Tuesday, just hours ahead of a vote to proceed to debate on an unknown series of bills and amendments that may not include his policy, Cruz signaled willingness to vote for a stripped-down bill known as “skinny repeal.”
“I think it’s critical to honor our promise to repeal Obamacare,” he said, taking long strides down one of the narrow underground tunnels that snakes beneath the Capitol as a troop of reporters scurried to keep pace.
The purpose of the so-called “skinny repeal” strategy is simply to pass something, anything out of the Senate so that the House and Senate can go to conference to hash out their differences and create a final health care bill to send to President Trump.
“There’s no doubt that repealing the individual mandate and employer mandate are good, positive steps,” he said. “But I hope we can do far more and provide really meaningful relief that can drive down the cost of premiums.”
Asked if simply repealing the mandate would—as experts have warned—send the individual health care market into a death spiral where only the very sick buy insurance and prices skyrocket, Cruz demurred. “This is a legislative journey,” he said. “We aren’t there yet. We are making steady progress.”
Cruz’s apparently willingness to support a motion to proceed makes it all the more likely that Senate Republicans will muscle through the procedural hurdle Tuesday afternoon.
Alice Ollstein is a reporter at Talking Points Memo, covering national politics. She graduated from Oberlin College in 2010 and has been reporting in DC ever since, covering the Supreme Court, Congress and national elections for TV, radio, print, and online outlets. Her work has aired on Free Speech Radio News, All Things Considered, Channel News Asia, and Telesur, and her writing has been published by The Atlantic, La Opinión, and The Hill Rag. She was elected in 2016 as an at-large board member of the DC Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Alice grew up in Santa Monica, California and began working for local newspapers in her early teens.