Republicans mixed on how to move forward on ObamaCare replacement
Republican lawmakers remain divided on the next steps to repeal and replace ObamaCare as Congress prepares to return Monday from its Fourth of July recess. But one thing is clear: Consensus is building that the GOP might have to change strategy on passing healthcare legislation.
After postponing a vote on the Senate GOP healthcare plan, several Republican senators came out in opposition to the legislation during the recess, while others have been pessimistic that the bill will pass the upper chamber.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) when asked during the recess by his constituents if he will support the bill reportedly said he was unsure if the Senate would “get a bill up” for a vote.
Grassley is not the only lawmaker lacking optimism about the bill’s future.
“My view is it’s probably going to be dead,” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) told CBS’s “Face The Nation” on Sunday. “I fear that it’s going to fail.”
Ten Republican senators oppose the legislation, while over a dozen remain undecided as lawmakers return to the District from the recent holiday.
Some lawmakers, including Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.), are pushing for a full repeal of ObamaCare before proposing a replacement. Cruz and Paul, along with Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), jointly came out against the bill upon its release, arguing it did not fully repeal enough provisions within ObamaCare.
President Trump suggested last month that he was open to repealing ObamaCare first and developing a replacement plan later, saying Senate Republicans should take this route if the current proposal cannot pass.
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), another undecided lawmaker, has argued for a repeal of ObamaCare with a delayed implementation date so lawmakers can develop a replacement.
Cruz, for his part, has worked on an amendment that would allow insurance providers to sell healthcare plans that do not meet ObamaCare regulations so long as they offer at least one plan that does meet the requirements. Cruz’s amendment could be a pathway to gaining the support of conservative lawmakers seeking to lower the cost of premiums.
During a Sunday show circuit marked by cynicism on healthcare from members of the Senate, Cruz argued that Republicans “are making steady progress.”
“The conversations have been collaborative and in good faith,” Cruz told ABC’s “This Week.”
Other senators, however, have suggested working across party lines to gain bipartisan support for a new healthcare plan.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) during a Sunday morning interview said he would support the current proposal, which he argued is “better than ObamaCare,” but said he does not know if lawmakers can come together to pass the bill.
“Whether or not we can come together, I don’t know,” Graham told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“But ObamaCare is going to fail. My advice is if it does fail, we work together in a bipartisan fashion to replace it,” he said.
Others theorize the legislation is failing because of problems unrelated to healthcare. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), a conservative senator who is currently undecided on the bill, cautioned his colleagues against combining healthcare reform with tax reform.
“Let’s first talk, Chris, about why they’ve had such a problem passing any plan. They are trying to combine tax reform with healthcare reform,” Cassidy said during an appearance on “Fox News Sunday” with Chris Wallace.
“Don’t mix the two. We don’t mix the two,” he said.
Meanwhile, Democrats have slammed Republicans throughout the repeal-and-replace process, accusing the GOP of a lack of transparency in crafting the bill. Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez on Sunday said the two parties could have “come together” had the bill not been written “in secret.”
“I’m confident that we can come together if our north star is we’re going to help increase access to quality, affordable healthcare,” Perez said during an interview with “Meet the Press.”