Graham: Budget resolution must keep ObamaCare repeal debate alive
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said on Sunday he would not vote for a budget resolution that did not allow the health care debate to continue.
“We’re not going to vote for a budget resolution that doesn’t allow the health care debate to continue,” Graham, who sits on the Senate Budget Committee, said on ABC’s “This Week.”
Republicans need to pass another budget resolution this fall to pave the way for tax reform, which they also want to pass by a simple majority.
They only have a one-seat advance on the Senate Budget Committee. And GOP leadership will need the support of at least 50 GOP senators to support the resolution, allowing Vice President Mike Pence to break a tie, on the Senate floor.
If Graham and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) both opposed the budget resolution, as Graham threatened Sunday, it would give leadership no room for error to get the budget – and the rules for tax reform – cleared.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) was the only Republican to vote against the fiscal year 2017 budget resolution passed in January, which set up ObamaCare repeal, because it didn’t balance. He hasn’t weighed in on the upcoming fiscal year 2018 budget.
Graham’s comments come as he is trying to get his bill, co-sponsored with GOP Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), cleared through the Senate before the end of the month, when the fiscal year 2017 budget resolution and the rules allowing Republicans to bypass a Democratic filibuster expire.
He said Democrats are complaining about Republicans using the same legislative process they did by using budget reconciliation to pass a health care bill.
“I think we’re going to get the votes next week. We’re using the exact same process the Democrats did to pass ObamaCare. They complain about a process they used,” Graham said.
Graham said he doesn’t expect to get Democrats on board for reform.
“They’re never going to give in to changing ObamaCare,” he said of Democrats. “They’re going to single payer health care. There is no bipartisan solution to health care that fundamentally changes ObamaCare, because there are stakeholders for single payer health care.”
Paul and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) have both said they will not support the bill from Graham-Cassidy. Several other key senators remain undecided.
McCain’s opposition to the legislation, announced Friday, left Republicans scrambling to get 50 votes from their conference by Sept. 30 to meet the budget reconciliation deadline.
If an ObamaCare replacement bill isn’t signed into law by then under budget reconciliation rules, it would need 60 votes to pass.
If Republicans aren’t able to pass ObamaCare repeal this week, they could include rules allowing them to pass it by a simple majority in the next budget resolution.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) has noted that would require them to package healthcare and tax reform—their two biggest agenda items—together but it’s “not easy.”