GOP single-payer amendment fails in Senate

The Senate resoundingly rejected a Republican effort to get Democrats on the record regarding their support — or lack thereof — for a single-payer healthcare system. 

Senators voted 0-57 on the amendment from GOP Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) to implement a government-funded healthcare system.

Democratic Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinOvernight Health Care: Trump officials explore importing prescription drugs | Key ObamaCare, drug pricing regs under review | GOP looks to blunt attacks on rising premiums | Merck to lower some drug prices Dems pressure GOP to take legal action supporting pre-existing conditions Election Countdown: Senate, House Dems build cash advantage | 2020 Dems slam Trump over Putin presser | Trump has M in war chest | Republican blasts parents for donating to rival | Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders to campaign in Kansas MORE (W.Va.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterOvernight Defense: Trump inviting Putin to DC | Senate to vote Monday on VA pick | Graham open to US-Russia military coordination in Syria Senate to vote Monday on Trump's VA nominee On The Money: Trump rips Fed over rate hikes | Dems fume as consumer agency pick refuses to discuss border policy | Senate panel clears Trump IRS nominee MORE (Mont.) and Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampDems pressure GOP to take legal action supporting pre-existing conditions Election Countdown: Senate, House Dems build cash advantage | 2020 Dems slam Trump over Putin presser | Trump has M in war chest | Republican blasts parents for donating to rival | Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders to campaign in Kansas Senate Dems build huge cash edge in battlegrounds MORE (N.D.) and Independent Sen. Angus KingAngus Stanley KingBipartisan bill would bring needed funds to deteriorating National Park Service infrastructure Lawmakers say Trump tariffs are threatening local newspapers Senate adds members to pro-NATO group MORE (Maine) joined all Republicans in voting “no,” while 43 Democrats voted “present.”

The vote was widely viewed as a political maneuver to try to get Democrats — particularly 10 senators up for reelection in red and purple states carried by President Trump last year — to go on the record regarding a concept that is picking up steam among their party's resurgent progressive wing. 

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But the amendment, part of a days-long debate on repealing and replacing ObamaCare, was widely expected to fail, with Democrats accusing GOP senators of putting up a "sham" proposal. 

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerDemocrats slam Trump for considering Putin’s ’absurd’ request to question Americans Judge Kavanaugh confounds the left This week: GOP mulls vote on ‘abolish ICE’ legislation MORE (D-N.Y.) grilled Republicans ahead of the vote, calling the amendment "pure cynicism, pure politics." 

"Senator Daines doesn't support this bill. He just wants to get Democrats on the record. The majority leader has made pending an amendment that both he and the author of the amendment will oppose, and that's the very definition of a political game. We Democrats aren't going to go along, because ... this isn't a game," he said. 

Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersSenate to vote Monday on Trump's VA nominee Senate approves resolution warning Trump not to hand over US officials GOP leader blocks resolution backing intelligence community on Russia MORE (I-Vt.), long supportive of single payer, quipped that he hoped Daines "has seen the light, but I suspect not." 

"I suspect that what Senator Daines is doing is nothing more than an old political trick, trying to embarrass Democrats," Sanders said from the Senate floor. 

The legislation from Daines uses the same language as a Medicare-for-all bill in the House sponsored by Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.).

GOP senators have warned that if they fail in their current bid to at least repeal parts of ObamaCare, they will have to work with Democrats and potentially move closer to a single-payer system. 

The idea has gained traction among the liberal ranks of the Democratic Party. Sanders made Medicare-for-all a centerpiece of his presidential campaign, and Conyers's bill has 115 co-sponsors in the House. 

Sanders noted that he will soon be introducing a Medicare-for-all, single-payer system — potentially during the freewheeling vote-a-rama expected later Thursday. 

Senate Democrats have to defend 23 seats next election, plus two more held by independents who caucus with them. That includes several red-state Democrats, such as Heitkamp, Manchin, Donnelly and Claire McCaskill (Mo.).