Senate

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 McConnell (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 Boxer (D-Calif.).

The Senate could still see another ObamaCare vote later Sunday.

Sen. Mike Lee (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 Murphy (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 Corker (R-Tenn.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Jeff Sessions (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 Coons (D-Del.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.). Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) also did not vote.

Tags Barbara Boxer Bernie Sanders Bob Corker Chris Coons Chris Murphy Ed Markey Jeff Flake Jeff Sessions Lisa Murkowski Mike Lee Mitch McConnell
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