Schumer puts GOP on notice over ObamaCare repeal

Schumer puts GOP on notice over ObamaCare repeal
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Senate Democratic Leader Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerDem legal analyst says media 'overplayed' hand in Mueller coverage Former FBI official praises Barr for 'professional' press conference Pelosi: Barr press briefing a 'staggering partisan effort' MORE (D-N.Y.) has made it crystal clear: If Republicans repeal ObamaCare without immediately implementing a plan to replace it, Democrats will not help them out of a pickle down the road.   

Senate Democratic sources familiar with Schumer’s thinking say he will not engage in any negotiations to pass a watered-down version of the landmark healthcare reform law if Republicans unilaterally force its repeal first under special budgetary rules. 

“That’s not a close call. They’re doing something so extraordinary reckless. You cannot reward hostage taking,” a Democratic senator said. 

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The Democratic senator said Republicans have refused to work with President Obama for six years to come up with fixes to improve the law because they wanted to heighten its unpopularity and score political points.

Now, even if the GOP can secure a repeal through the budget reconciliation process – which requires only a majority – they’ll need support from at least eight Democrats to hit the 60 votes needed to pass replacement legislation.

The senator said Schumer’s view and the prevailing view in the Democratic Caucus is that they should not lift a finger to help Republicans out of a political mess if they repeal the healthcare reform law without having a replacement ready to avert severe market disruptions.

“If they want to rip healthcare away from 22 million Americans, they don’t get to blame us for not cobbling something back together,” the lawmaker said. 

Schumer believes Republicans will inflict a massive political wound on themselves if they repeal ObamaCare’s most popular provisions – such as the ban on insurance companies discriminating against people with preexisting conditions and the Medicaid expansion – and fail to come up with adequate alternatives.

Schumer told colleagues on the Senate floor Wednesday evening that Democrats would work with Republicans to improve the Affordable Care Act or even pass a comprehensive reform bill replacing it – under certain conditions.

“So long as it covers as many people as the ACA, so long as it helps bring healthcare costs down, so long as it doesn’t move our healthcare system backward,” he said. 

Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOvernight Health Care: McConnell offering bill to raise tobacco-buying age to 21 | NC gov vetoes 'born alive' abortion bill | CMS backs off controversial abortion proposal HR 1 brings successful local, state reforms to the federal level and deserves passage The Hill's 12:30 Report: Inside the Mueller report MORE (R-Ky.) acknowledged at a press conference after Election Day that Republicans will need Democratic support to enact legislation replacing ObamaCare.

“What the American people are looking for is results. And to get results in the Senate, as all of you know, it requires some Democratic participation and cooperation,” McConnell said one day after the election.

But Democrats are warning that if McConnell wants to replace ObamaCare, he needs to negotiate with them now — not after a one-sided repeal effort is over.

“They are using an inherently partisan process in my view to get an ideological trophy,” Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenOn The Money: Inside the Mueller report | Cain undeterred in push for Fed seat | Analysis finds modest boost to economy from new NAFTA | White House says deal will give auto sector B boost Government report says new NAFTA would have minimal impact on economy Hillicon Valley: Washington preps for Mueller report | Barr to hold Thursday presser | Lawmakers dive into AI ethics | FCC chair moves to block China Mobile | Dem bill targets 'digital divide' | Microsoft denies request for facial recognition tech MORE (Ore.), the ranking Democrat on the Finance Committee, said of Republican efforts to use the budget process to repeal ObamaCare.

Wyden said he would not participate in the Republican effort to overhaul the nation’s healthcare sector as it’s now planned. 

“People are going to get hurt,” he said. “If they want to set this whole thing aside, the partisan agenda that is about capturing their ideological trophy from the campaign trail and talk about ways to approve it, I’ve always been clear [about supporting] that.

“That’s why I’m not going to say, ‘Fine, repeal it, we’ll look at something that may happen down the road,’” he added.

Sen. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineOnly four Dem senators have endorsed 2020 candidates Democratic proposals to overhaul health care: A 2020 primer Dems ask Justice Dept to release findings of Acosta-Epstein investigation MORE (D-Va.), Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonClinton campaign chief: Mueller report 'lays out a devastating case' against Trump Hillicon Valley: Cyber, tech takeaways from Mueller report | Millions of Instagram passwords exposed internally by Facebook | DHS unrolling facial recognition tech in airports | Uber unveils new safety measures after student's killing Heavily redacted Mueller report leaves major questions unanswered MORE’s running mate, spoke for most of his Democratic colleagues when he said, “The time for negotiation is now.”

The Senate Republican Caucus is now in state of heightened anxiety over the possibility they may be headed into what Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerPollster says Trump unlikely to face 'significant' primary challenge GOP gets used to saying 'no' to Trump Democrats introduce bill to rein in Trump on tariffs MORE (R-Texas) calls a “box canyon,” or a dead end.

The American Medical Association, the largest and best known association of doctors, warned Congress in a letter earlier this month that lawmakers should not dismantle the law without laying out “in reasonable detail what will replace current policies.”

While House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanFEC filing: No individuals donated to indicted GOP rep this cycle The Hill's Morning Report - Waiting on Mueller: Answers come on Thursday Paul Ryan joins University of Notre Dame faculty MORE (R-Wis.) and President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpButtigieg on Mueller report: 'Politically, I'm not sure it will change much' Sarah Sanders addresses false statements detailed in Mueller report: 'A slip of the tongue' Trump to visit Japan in May to meet with Abe, new emperor MORE have promised repeal and replacement would happen quickly and nearly simultaneously, some GOP senators are showing concern about the pace. 

Corker, Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanGOP senator wears shirt honoring Otto Warmbier at Korean DMZ On The Money: Conservatives rally behind Moore for Fed | White House interviewing other candidates | Trump, Dems spar on Tax Day | Budget watchdogs bemoan 'debt denialism' The Hill's Morning Report - Waiting on Mueller: Answers come on Thursday MORE (R-Ohio), Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsCollins backs having Mueller testify Graham says he's 'not interested' in Mueller testifying Overnight Energy: Collins receives more donations from Texas oil, gas industry than from Maine residents | Interior chief left meetings off schedule | Omar controversy jeopardizes Ocasio-Cortez trip to coal mine MORE (R-Maine), Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiCain says he 'won't run away from criticism' in push for Fed seat Cain says he won't back down, wants to be nominated to Fed License to discriminate: Religious exemption laws are trampling rights in rural America MORE (R-Alaska) unveiled this past week an amendment to the budget resolution that would have extended the deadline for committees to come up with ObamaCare repeal legislation from Jan. 27 to March 3.

But McConnell was concerned that growing dissension in his ranks posed a risk to passage of the budget resolution, the first step toward repeal. He scrambled to quell the concerns, according to lawmakers who discussed strategy with him at a meeting Wednesday.

The GOP leader told colleagues “to stop obsessing” about whether repeal legislation would also be labeled as a replacement measure, according to a GOP senator who participated in the conversation. 

He also urged them to stop fretting about whether the committees of jurisdiction would be instructed to come up with an ObamaCare repeal plan by the Jan. 27 or the March 3 target. A second Republican source confirmed the conversation.  

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike EnziMichael (Mike) Bradley Enzi Embattled senators fill coffers ahead of 2020 The Hill's Morning Report - Trump cleaning house on border security Judd Gregg: In praise of Mike Enzi MORE (R-Wyo.) backed up McConnell at the private meeting by explaining to colleagues that Jan. 27 was the earliest date by which the committees could report their plan for repealing ObamaCare, not a deadline.

After receiving these assurances from McConnell and Enzi, Corker, Portman and their allies withdrew the amendment

"I know a date has been put in this reconciliation of Jan. 27, and we realize that is not a real date," Corker said. "It's a placeholder."