No ObamaCare repeal in new GOP budget

No ObamaCare repeal in new GOP budget
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Senate Republicans appear to have conceded defeat on repealing ObamaCare this year, as the newly released budget resolution for fiscal year 2018 focuses almost entirely on tax reform.

The draft released Friday only includes legislating instructions to the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee, which don’t have jurisdiction over health insurance.

It doesn’t direct the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee or the House Energy and Commerce Committee to craft legislation — a sign that tax reform has become the new priority and that Republican plans for ObamaCare repeal are on ice.

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At the start of the year, the House and Senate passed reconciliation instructions allowing them to pass ObamaCare repeal through the Senate on a simple majority vote.

That budget tool expires on Saturday, putting them back at square one.

After seven years of campaign promises, the Senate on Tuesday gave up on a last-gasp ObamaCare repeal bill from Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGOP and Dems bitterly divided by immigration We are running out of time to protect Dreamers US trade deficit rises on record imports from China MORE (R-S.C.) and Bill CassidyWilliam (Bill) Morgan CassidyTax bill could fuel push for Medicare, Social Security cuts Collins to vote for GOP tax plan Overnight Tech: Lawmakers want answers on Uber breach | Justices divided in patent case | Tech makes plea for net neutrality on Cyber Monday MORE (R-La.).

The decision effectively ended any chance Republicans had of repealing ObamaCare this year, and potentially before the 2018 midterm elections.

There is still a possibility that some elements of ObamaCare repeal could make their way into a tax reform bill. The Senate Finance and House Ways and Means committees have jurisdiction over some health-care matters, including Medicaid.

Each version of ObamaCare repeal would have made drastic changes to the Medicaid program, including ending the law’s expansion.

The budget resolution includes a reserve fund, just in case the committees decide they want to tackle some elements of repeal. But many in the GOP have warned that combining the two bills could jeopardize a tax overhaul that they say the economy desperately needs.

This means Republicans will likely have to wait until the 2019 budget to use the fast-track process, known as reconciliation, to pass a repeal bill with just a simple majority.