After O’Care Plan Falters, McConnell Says He’ll Push For Vote On Repeal Only

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., talks to reporters before the vote to confirm President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, April 7, 2017. The Republican majority changed Senate rules to lower the vote threshold for Supreme Court nominees from 60 votes to a simple majority to counter Democratic resistance. McConnell also supported Trump's airstrike on Syria. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Not long after the defections of two more Senate Republicans made the GOP Obamacare replacement bill dead in the water, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell  (R-KY) announced Monday night he would let members vote for a “repeal only” amendment, if they are able to get the base health care legislation that was passed in the House onto the floor.

Earlier Monday evening, Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) announced they were opposed to the Senate version of the House legislation, which imposed massive cuts to Medicaid while dismantling some — but not all — of the Affordable Care Act. They joined Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Rand Paul (R-KY), who announced their opposition last week. Plans for an initial vote to advance the legislation this week had been delayed due to Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) needing to undergo an emergency surgery. The opposition of the four Republicans meant that even when McCain was back, GOP leadership would not have enough votes to even bring the bill to the floor, let alone pass a final version after an amendments process known as vote-a-rama.

Under the plan laid out by McConnell’s statement Monday, if the Senate Republicans are willing to advance the repeal-and-replace bill passed in the House in a procedural vote, they will get a chance to vote on an amendment to replace it with a “repeal only” approach, similar to a 2015 bill Congress passed that was vetoed by President Obama. It’s unclear what the next steps would be if the vote on the amendment failed.

Even before the latest round of defections, some conservatives were calling for a return to the 2015 approach. President Trump called on Republicans to try a repeal-only approach after Lee and Moran announced they were opposed to the Senate bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act.

The 2015 legislation would repeal many of Obamacare’s taxes immediately, while repealing its Medicaid expansion and its tax credits for insurance after two years. It would leave in place Affordable Care Act market reforms, and the Congressional Budget Office estimated that it would lead to 32 million more uninsured by 2026 — even more than the 22 million fewer people with insurance that the CBO estimated would be the result of the Better Care Reconciliation Act.

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