The Senate resoundingly rejected a Republican effort to get Democrats on the record regarding their support — or lack thereof — for a single-payer healthcare system.
Senators voted 0-57 on the amendment from GOP Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) to implement a government-funded healthcare system.
Democratic Joe ManchinJoe ManchinOn The Money — Democrats craft billionaire tax with deal in reach Democrats face critical 72 hours Overnight Health Care — Presented by Altria — Manchin nixes Medicare expansion MORE (W.Va.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterDemocrats ready to put a wrap on dragged-out talks Providing affordable housing to recruit our next generation of volunteer firefighters The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Uber - Manchin, Sanders in budget feud; Biden still upbeat MORE (Mont.) and Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampWashington's oldest contact sport: Lobbyists scrum to dilute or kill Democrats' tax bill Progressives prepare to launch counterattack in tax fight Business groups aim to divide Democrats on .5T spending bill MORE (N.D.) and Independent Sen. Angus KingAngus KingThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden, Democrats inch closer to legislative deal Angus King: Losing climate provisions in reconciliation bill weakens Biden's hands in Glasgow Sunday shows - Democrats' spending plan in the spotlight MORE (Maine) joined all Republicans in voting “no,” while 43 Democrats voted “present.”
The vote was widely viewed as a political maneuver to try to get Democrats — particularly 10 senators up for reelection in red and purple states carried by President Trump last year — to go on the record regarding a concept that is picking up steam among their party's resurgent progressive wing.
But the amendment, part of a days-long debate on repealing and replacing ObamaCare, was widely expected to fail, with Democrats accusing GOP senators of putting up a "sham" proposal.
Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerSenators weigh future of methane fee in spending bill Biden hopes for deal on economic agenda before Europe trip The Senate is setting a dangerous precedent with Iron Dome funding MORE (D-N.Y.) grilled Republicans ahead of the vote, calling the amendment "pure cynicism, pure politics."
"Senator Daines doesn't support this bill. He just wants to get Democrats on the record. The majority leader has made pending an amendment that both he and the author of the amendment will oppose, and that's the very definition of a political game. We Democrats aren't going to go along, because ... this isn't a game," he said.
Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersDemocrats face critical 72 hours Overnight Health Care — Presented by Altria — Manchin nixes Medicare expansion Manchin shutting down Sanders on Medicare expansion MORE (I-Vt.), long supportive of single payer, quipped that he hoped Daines "has seen the light, but I suspect not."
"I suspect that what Senator Daines is doing is nothing more than an old political trick, trying to embarrass Democrats," Sanders said from the Senate floor.
The legislation from Daines uses the same language as a Medicare-for-all bill in the House sponsored by Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.).
GOP senators have warned that if they fail in their current bid to at least repeal parts of ObamaCare, they will have to work with Democrats and potentially move closer to a single-payer system.
The idea has gained traction among the liberal ranks of the Democratic Party. Sanders made Medicare-for-all a centerpiece of his presidential campaign, and Conyers's bill has 115 co-sponsors in the House.
Sanders noted that he will soon be introducing a Medicare-for-all, single-payer system — potentially during the freewheeling vote-a-rama expected later Thursday.
Senate Democrats have to defend 23 seats next election, plus two more held by independents who caucus with them. That includes several red-state Democrats, such as Heitkamp, Manchin, Donnelly and Claire McCaskill (Mo.).