Senate GOP Aborts Vote On Last-Ditch Obamacare Repeal Bill

United States Senator Lindsey Graham (Republican of South Carolina) speaks to reporters outside the US Senate Chamber following the Republican weekly luncheon caucus in the US Capitol in Washington, DC on Tuesday, Se... United States Senator Lindsey Graham (Republican of South Carolina) speaks to reporters outside the US Senate Chamber following the Republican weekly luncheon caucus in the US Capitol in Washington, DC on Tuesday, September 19, 2017. The GOP leadership is advocating for the passage of the Graham-Cassidy Act that would replace parts of the Affordable Care Act (also known as ObamaCare) with block grants for the individual states. From left to right: US Senator Roy Blunt (Republican of Missouri), US Senator John Barrasso (Republican of Wyoming), US Senator John Cornyn (Republican of Texas), Senator Graham, US Senator Bill Cassidy (Republican of Louisiana), US Senator John Thune (Republican of South Dakota), and US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Republican of Kentucky). Credit: Ron Sachs / CNP - NO WIRE SERVICE - Photo by: Ron Sachs/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images MORE LESS
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September 26, 2017 2:27 p.m.

Cameron Joseph contributed reporting.

It’s dead—again.

Emerging from a closed-door lunch meeting, Republican senators told reporters that leadership had decided to call off a vote this week on a bill to repeal much of the Affordable Care Act and convert Medicaid into a shrinking block grant.

“I don’t believe there is going to be a vote,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) said with a smile, declining to reveal how she would have voted on the controversial bill, but adding: “There’s still a lot of work to do on health care.”

Other Republican members were less zen about the news that they would once again fail to fulfill their signature campaign promise to nuke Obamacare.

“I’m apoplectic,” Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) told TPM. “I’m kind of disgusted that after 9 months the self-interest is still outweighing the national interest in our caucus in some ways. This should not have happened. This did not have to happen.”

Minutes later, the bill’s authors made the official announcement.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), flanked by Senate GOP leaders, promised the measure would pass eventually, but acknowledged it won’t happen by the Sept. 30 deadline.

“We’re on the path to pass Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson. It’s not a question of if, but when,” he insisted.

In a nod to his friend Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who excoriated the rushed, secretive, and partisan process used to create and promote the bill, Graham added: “With a process that gives more intention and time we will repeal Obamacare with a block grant.”

Graham’s co-author, a visibly downcast Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), then confirmed to reporters: “We don’t have the votes.”

Graham and Cassidy, who pushed for a vote on his bill with only one hearing and no Democratic co-sponsors, called for both sides to reach across the aisle going forward.

“Let’s engage each other and find a bipartisan path forward,” he said.

Despite several lawmakers insisting that the health care fight is not, and never is, over, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told reporters that the Senate will now turn its attention to its “twin priority of reforming the tax code.”

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