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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocrats make final plea for voting rights ahead of filibuster showdown Mellman: Voting rights or the filibuster? Budowsky: To Dems: Run against the do-nothing GOP, Senate MORE (R-Ky.) on Friday said he wants Congress to wrap up work on replacing ObamaCare soon so lawmakers can move on to President Trump’s other big priority: tax reform.
McConnell told The Hill in an interview that he doesn’t want the debate over replacing the landmark healthcare reform law to drag on for months, expressing the same sense of urgency as Trump, who has called for Congress to move “very quickly.”
Shortly after the election, some Senate Republicans discussed working over the next two years to devise new healthcare reforms. But McConnell doesn’t want the debate to eclipse tax reform.
“I don’t think we have the luxury of this dragging out for a lengthy period of time. There is a reason to wrap it up. This is a very intense effort of consultation with all three branches about how to do this in the relatively near future,” McConnell said.
He said doesn’t want wrangling over ObamaCare to trample on time he has set aside for tax reform later this year.
“We want to complete this exercise before we get to the second budget reconciliation for tax reform,” he said.
Senate and House Republicans have already taken the first step toward repealing the law by passing a joint budget resolution earlier this month.
The next step will be to repeal and replace as much it as possible through administrative action. That effort will be led by Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), Trump’s choice to head the Department of Health and Human Services, who is expected to win Senate confirmation soon.
The third step will happen under a special budgetary process known as reconciliation. This will allow Senate Republicans to dismantle its core pillars and implement new reforms with a simple majority vote, not the 60 votes typically required for controversial bills. The limitation of this tactic is that it only protects provisions that have an impact on the budget.
Rep. Diane BlackDiane Lynn BlackBottom line Overnight Health Care: Anti-abortion Democrats take heat from party | More states sue Purdue over opioid epidemic | 1 in 4 in poll say high costs led them to skip medical care Lamar Alexander's exit marks end of an era in evolving Tennessee MORE (R-Tenn.), the interim House Budget Committee chairwoman, said Wednesday that one reform likely to be included in the reconciliation vehicle would create incentives for health savings accounts.
McConnell said regulatory actions taken by the administration will “smooth the path to the reconciliation vehicle” but cautioned that the replacement reforms likely to be included are still under discussion.
The final step will be to pass a second ObamaCare replacement bill outside the reconciliation process to enact reforms that don’t have a significant budgetary impact, such as allowing companies to sell insurance across state lines or prohibiting insurers from discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions.
“There’s the possibility for yet another proposal outside of reconciliation and on that one we would need some democratic cooperation,” he said.
He acknowledged this last phase could be difficult because he will need at least eight Democratic votes to overcome an anticipated filibuster. But he predicted that the ten Democratic senators running for re-election in 2018 in states Trump won will be inclined to cooperate.
“I’m assuming that each of them will be calculating whether it’s to their advantage to be cooperative or not,” he said. “I’m hoping that frequently they will conclude that it’s actually good for them to be helpful to us.”