GOP single-payer amendment fails in Senate

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 ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinSenate rejects government-wide ban on abortion funding Centrist efforts to convince Trump to end shutdown falter Bipartisan group of senators will urge Trump to reopen government for 3 weeks MORE (W.Va.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterCentrist efforts to convince Trump to end shutdown falter Dems offer measure to raise minimum wage to per hour Some Senate Dems see Ocasio-Cortez as weak spokeswoman for party MORE (Mont.) and Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampOn The Money: Shutdown Day 27 | Trump fires back at Pelosi by canceling her foreign travel | Dems blast 'petty' move | Trump also cancels delegation to Davos | House votes to disapprove of Trump lifting Russia sanction Gary Cohn criticizes the shutdown: 'Completely wrong' EPA's Wheeler faces grilling over rule rollbacks MORE (N.D.) and Independent Sen. Angus KingAngus Stanley KingGOP senators challenge Trump on shutdown strategy Will Trump declare an emergency tonight? Only he knows for sure Senate in last-minute talks to find deal to avert shutdown  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. 

ADVERTISEMENT

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 SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerDem senators debate whether to retweet Cardi B video criticizing Trump over shutdown William Barr's only 'flaw' is that he was nominated by Trump Cardi B expresses solidarity with federal workers not getting paid 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 SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersWomen's March plans 'Medicare for All' day of lobbying in DC Group aiming to draft Beto O’Rourke unveils first 2020 video Why Joe Biden (or any moderate) cannot be nominated 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.).