GOP senators make last ObamaCare repeal pitch

GOP senators make last ObamaCare repeal pitch
© Greg Nash

Four Republican senators on Wednesday introduced a last-ditch effort to repeal and replace ObamaCare, urging their leadership and President Trump to support it.

Sens. Bill CassidyWilliam (Bill) Morgan CassidyGOP senators introduce resolution endorsing ICE Lawmakers pitch dueling plans for paid family leave New push to break deadlock on paid family leave MORE (R-La.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamKelly lobbied Republicans to rebuke Trump after Putin press conference: report Senate weighs new Russia response amid Trump backlash Trump stuns the world at Putin summit MORE (R-S.C.), Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonJuan Williams: Putin wins as GOP spins GOP senator: Harley-Davidson is right to move some production overseas GOP senator: Trump’s policies doing 'permanent damage' MORE (R-Wis.) and Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerSenate Dems build huge cash edge in battlegrounds Jacky Rosen hits Dean Heller over health care in first negative ad GOP moderates hint at smooth confirmation ahead for Kavanaugh MORE (R-Nev.) argued at a press conference that their party should not give up on repealing the health law. But they face extremely long odds in trying to win 51 votes before a fast-approaching procedural deadline on Sept. 30.

“This is our last shot,” Johnson said.

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOvernight Defense: Trump tries to quell Russia furor | GOP looks to reassure NATO | Mattis open to meeting Russian counterpart Senate weighs new Russia response amid Trump backlash House passes bipartisan bill to boost business investment MORE (R-Ky.) has not thrown his support behind the bill, though, telling Graham and Cassidy at a meeting on Tuesday that they needed to find 51 votes on their own.

“I think Mitch would vote for it but he said, ‘Go get 50 votes,’” Graham said. Fifty votes would allow Vice President Pence to cast a tie-breaking vote.

Graham challenged McConnell and Trump to step up their efforts.

“Here’s my challenge to the Republican leadership: Act like this matters, because it does,” Graham said.

But leadership has shown little interest in diving back into the ObamaCare repeal fight after the effort failed in July.

Graham urged Trump to call Republican governors to get them to back the bill.

“The idea that the Republican Party has done its best to repeal and replace ObamaCare is a joke,” Graham said.

The senators argued their bill would give control over health care back to the states. It would end funding for ObamaCare’s insurer subsidies that help people afford coverage and the money for Medicaid expansion. Instead, the bill would convert that funding into block grants to states.

Democrats argue the block grants would be too small and would lead to cuts. Democrats point to a study from the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities that found that an earlier version of the bill would result in a 34 percent cut in spending compared to ObamaCare over 10 years.

Heller, who is facing a tough reelection race next year, defended his support for the bill, arguing that, at least in Nevada, funding would increase, not decrease.

“That hasn’t changed,” Heller said of the support for Medicaid expansion he voiced earlier this year in opposing a GOP repeal bill.

He argued that under the bill, his state could keep Medicaid expansion if it wanted.

“Not only can they keep that, they can expand it,” he said.