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 McConnellGOP Green New Deal stunt is a great deal for Democrats The national emergency will haunt Republicans come election season Trump: McConnell should keep Senate in session until nominees are approved 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 BoxerNewsom endorses Kamala Harris for president Hispanic civil rights icon endorses Harris for president California AG Becerra included in Bloomberg 50 list MORE (D-Calif.).

The Senate could still see another ObamaCare vote later Sunday.

Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeSenate approves border bill that prevents shutdown Push for paid family leave heats up ahead of 2020 New act can help us grapple with portion of exploding national debt 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 MurphyHouse passes bill to end US support for Saudi war in Yemen This week: Border deal remains elusive as shutdown looms Border talks stall as another shutdown looms 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 CorkerSasse’s jabs at Trump spark talk of primary challenger RNC votes to give Trump 'undivided support' ahead of 2020 Sen. Risch has unique chance to guide Trump on foreign policy MORE (R-Tenn.), Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeTrump suggests Heller lost reelection bid because he was 'hostile' during 2016 presidential campaign Live coverage: Trump delivers State of the Union Sasse’s jabs at Trump spark talk of primary challenger MORE (R-Ariz.), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiOn unilateral executive action, Mitch McConnell was right — in 2014 The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Kidney Care Partners — Trump escalates border fight with emergency declaration On The Money: Trump declares emergency at border | Braces for legal fight | Move divides GOP | Trump signs border deal to avoid shutdown | Winners, losers from spending fight | US, China trade talks to resume next week MORE (R-Alaska), Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsMcCabe says he was fired because he 'opened a case against' Trump The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the American Academy of HIV Medicine — Trump, Congress prepare for new border wall fight The Memo: Trump and McCabe go to war 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 CoonsTrump got in Dem’s face over abortion at private meeting: report Live coverage: Trump delivers State of the Union Actor Chris Evans meets with Democratic senators before State of the Union MORE (D-Del.) and Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyGOP Green New Deal stunt is a great deal for Democrats Green New Deal Resolution invites big picture governing We can have a Green New Deal, and air travel too MORE (D-Mass.). Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersSenate Dems introduce bill to prevent Trump from using disaster funds to build wall Klobuchar, O'Rourke visit Wisconsin as 2020 race heats up Sherrod Brown pushes for Medicare buy-in proposal in place of 'Medicare for all' MORE (I-Vt.) also did not vote.