Sen. Murkowski questions approach to health repeal

Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski on Thursday cast doubt on the manner in which Republicans have attempted to repeal the healthcare law.

Murkowski (Alaska) said that she would vote to repeal the law if a vote was held in the Senate, but she said the enough votes do not exist in the upper chamber to strike the law. As a result, Republicans should focus on other issues such as unemployment, spending and the federal debt and deficit, she said.

ADVERTISEMENT
"The real question is, how much time do we as a Congress spend on this messaging?" Murkowski asked during an interview with KTVA-TV.

Murkowski's comments came after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) assured that his chamber would hold a vote on the repeal bill passed by the GOP-controlled House this week, even though Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has voiced opposition to such a vote. 

The Alaska senator -- who defeated Tea Party Republican Joe Miller as a write-in candidate in November -- mimicked a Democratic argument against GOP repeal efforts; Democrats say that Republicans have gone back on their calls to focus on jobs by holding a healthcare vote as their first major action of the 112th Congress.

But GOP leaders, such as House Speaker John Boehner (Ohio), have said that the repeal vote was a crucial to uphold the Republicans' "Pledge to America" document and is a first step toward repeal, which Murkowski said she favors.

Murkowski countered that the law is highly unlikely to be repealed while President Obama is still in office.

"I don't believe there are votes sufficient in the Senate to repeal healthcare reform," she said. "And if there were, you're still dealing with a president whose signature domestic legislative accomplishment was the healthcare. So he's not going to allow for the repeal."

The senator argued that Congress should seriously focus on reducing healthcare costs, but repeal efforts have not satisfied that need.

"We can and should be doing more to reduce our healthcare costs, but what I don't think people want is the messaging that's going on," she said.

h/t Wonk Room

More in Blog Briefing Room

Sen. Nelson to undergo prostate cancer surgery

Read more »