Senate's ObamaCare repeal effort falls short

Senate's ObamaCare repeal effort falls short
© Greg Nash

The Senate on Sunday rejected a GOP-led amendment to repeal ObamaCare that fell several votes short of a 60-vote threshold to advance.

The largely symbolic vote, which was attached to a three-year highway funding bill, marked the Senate’s first attempt to repeal ObamaCare since Republicans took control of the chamber in January.

The measure had been certain to fail, lacking support from any Democrats. The final vote was 49-43 along party lines, with eight senators not voting.

Several Republican senators blasted it as a “show vote” that was intended to appease conservatives angry about a planned vote to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate passes 0B defense bill Overnight Health Care: New GOP ObamaCare repeal bill gains momentum Overnight Finance: CBO to release limited analysis of ObamaCare repeal bill | DOJ investigates Equifax stock sales | House weighs tougher rules for banks dealing with North Korea MORE (R-Ky.) had set up the vote last week as a tradeoff for some in his party who condemned the planned vote to revive the bank, part of the leadership's deal with Sen. Barbara BoxerBarbara BoxerTrump riles Dems with pick for powerful EPA job Pelosi's chief of staff stepping down Time is now to address infrastructure needs MORE (D-Calif.).

The Senate could still see another ObamaCare vote later Sunday.

Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeOvernight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions Senate passes 0B defense bill Overnight Finance: CBO to release limited analysis of ObamaCare repeal bill | DOJ investigates Equifax stock sales | House weighs tougher rules for banks dealing with North Korea MORE (R-Utah) is planning an attempt to circumvent the 60-vote threshold by using a procedural tactic known as the nuclear option.

Under Lee’s plan, he would refile the ObamaCare amendment as one that is germane to the highway funding bill to bypass the 60-vote threshold set up by McConnell.

Because the chair of the Senate is likely to reject the idea that ObamaCare is relevant to the highway bill, Lee would then formally object to the ruling — which allows a 51-vote majority to overturn the decision.

“Thanks to the sequencing of the votes we just locked in, Republicans will have the opportunity to resurrect that Obamacare amendment later on in the process, and put it back before the Senate in a manner that only requires a simple-majority vote,” Lee said in a press release late Friday.

Heritage Action for America has praised Lee’s move and said it will hold a “key vote” on the vote. A key vote is a congressional vote used by interest groups to rate lawmakers.

Heritage Action for America said it will not count the “show vote” established by McConnell.

Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphySenate Dem: Graham-Cassidy is an 'intellectual and moral garbage truck fire' Dems call for action against Cassidy-Graham ObamaCare repeal Murphy fires back at Trump on filibuster MORE (D-Conn.), who leads the Senate’s ACA Works campaign, blasted the Senate’s vote.

“Repealing the Affordable Care Act has no place in a discussion about the highway bill. It's time for Republicans to move on,” he tweeted during the vote.

Five GOP senators — Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerOvernight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions Senate passes 0B defense bill Corker pressed as reelection challenges mount MORE (R-Tenn.), Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeCorker pressed as reelection challenges mount -trillion debt puts US fiscal house on very shaky ground Senate votes down Paul's bid to revoke war authorizations MORE (R-Ariz.), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiSenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Collins skeptical of new ObamaCare repeal effort How Senate relationships could decide ObamaCare repeal MORE (R-Alaska), Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsRhode Island announces plan to pay DACA renewal fee for every 'Dreamer' in state Mich. Senate candidate opts for House run instead NAACP sues Trump for ending DACA MORE (R-Ala.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) — did not vote, though it would not have changed the final outcome.

Two Democrats did not vote — Sen. Chris CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsRaising awareness about maternal health worldwide on National Bump Day Senate plans hearing for bills to protect Mueller Entering a new era of African investment MORE (D-Del.) and Edward MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyOvernight Regulation: FTC launches probe into Equifax | Dems propose tougher data security rules | NYC aims to slash greenhouse gas emissions | EPA to reconsider Obama coal ash rule Overnight Cybersecurity: Kaspersky to testify before House | US sanctions Iranians over cyberattacks | Equifax reveals flaw that led to hack Dems propose data security bill after Equifax hack MORE (D-Mass.). Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersOvernight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions Senate passes 0B defense bill Dems fear lasting damage from Clinton-Sanders fight MORE (I-Vt.) also did not vote.