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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 McConnellDems confront Kelly after he calls some immigrants 'lazy' McConnell: 'Whoever gets to 60 wins' on immigration Overnight Defense: Latest on spending fight - House passes stopgap with defense money while Senate nears two-year budget deal | Pentagon planning military parade for Trump | Afghan war will cost B in 2018 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 Levy BoxerDems face hard choice for State of the Union response Billionaire Steyer to push for Dem House push Billionaire Steyer announces million for Dem House push MORE (D-Calif.).

The Senate could still see another ObamaCare vote later Sunday.

Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeRubio on push for paid family leave: ‘We still have to work on members of my own party’ National ad campaign pushes Congress to pass legislation lowering drug prices Senate Republicans call on Trump to preserve NAFTA 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 MurphyGreen group backs Sens. Baldwin, Nelson for reelection Dems press Trump for 'Buy American' proposals in infrastructure plan Chuck Schumer’s deal with the devil 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 CorkerPentagon: War in Afghanistan will cost billion in 2018 K.T. McFarland officially withdrawn as nominee for ambassador K.T. McFarland withdraws as nominee for ambassador MORE (R-Tenn.), Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeMcConnell: 'Whoever gets to 60 wins' on immigration Huckabee Sanders: Dems need to decide if they 'hate' Trump 'more than they love this country' Trump spokeswoman fires back at Flake: 'His numbers are in the tank' MORE (R-Ariz.), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiLawmakers scold Trump official over Pacific island trust fund Republican agenda clouded by division Greens sue over Interior plans to build road through Alaska refuge MORE (R-Alaska), Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsDems pick up deep-red legislative seat in Missouri Grassley to Sessions: Policy for employees does not comply with the law New immigration policy leaves asylum seekers in the lurch 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 CoonsOvernight Cybersecurity: Tillerson proposes new cyber bureau at State | Senate bill would clarify cross-border data rules | Uber exec says 'no justification' for covering up breach Hatch bill would dramatically increase H-1B visas Live coverage: Shutdown begins MORE (D-Del.) and Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeySenate receives official net neutrality notice from FCC EPA chief braces for grilling from Senate Dems Trump’s former chemical safety nominee leaving EPA MORE (D-Mass.). Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersTrump has declared war on our climate — we won’t let him win Stock slide bites boastful Trump, but rising wages great for GOP Millions should march on DC to defeat Trump Republicans MORE (I-Vt.) also did not vote.