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 CassidyBen Shapiro: Who died and made Jimmy Kimmel Jesus? Dems look to turn ObamaCare tables on GOP in '18 Congress misses deadline to reauthorize childrens' health care program MORE (R-La.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamDurbin: I had 'nothing to do' with Curbelo snub Republicans jockey for position on immigration Overnight Health Care: House passes 20-week abortion ban | GOP gives ground over ObamaCare fix | Price exit sets off speculation over replacement MORE (R-S.C.), Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonGun proposal picks up GOP support GOP lawmaker to unveil bill banning gun bump stocks Senate Homeland Security chairman backs bump-stock ban after Las Vegas shootings MORE (R-Wis.) and Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerNevada senators urge airlines to enact new policies after Las Vegas shooting Dems plan to make gun control an issue in Nevada GOP establishment doubts Bannon’s primary powers 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 McConnellGun proposal picks up GOP support Children’s health-care bill faces new obstacles Dems see Trump as potential ally on gun reform 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.