Senate GOP Gears Up For Its First Big Obamacare Repeal Vote … On A Sunday

Senate Republicans will finally take a shot at their great white whale, but their first vote to repeal Obamacare since taking over the Senate majority in January will come as an amendment to a highway bill and be held on a Sunday in late July. It’s not exactly the headline-making confrontation with the President over his signature legislation that conservatives have been hankering for.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced Friday that he plans to schedule the vote for Sunday on a must-pass a transportation funding bill that has already the epicenter of a number of fights. Also up for a vote will be another amendment reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank, which lapsed earlier this summer.

According to McConnell’s office, this is the first time the Senate will vote on Obamacare repeal outside of the budget since Republicans took control of the upper chamber in January. The House of Representatives has voted dozens of times to cripple or repeal Obamacare in recent years, but those bill never advanced in the then-Democratic-controlled Senate.

However, it is unlikely that an Obamacare repeal will pass the Senate, as it will need 60 votes to end debate on the proposal. Soon after McConnell filed the amendment, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), a fierce Ex-Im Bank opponent, called the vote an “empty showboat that’s a good way to distract from what’s going on.”

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Already the underlying legislation, a multiyear bill to fund construction on the nation’s deteriorating highways, was facing a number of other hurdles, from a stand-off with House Republicans who would prefer a short-term extension to a Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)-led effort to use the bill as a vehicle to defund Planned Parenthood.

The highway trust fund is set to expire July 31.

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