Healthcare

Senate rulemaker: Fast-track for ObamaCare repeal ends this month

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The Senate parliamentarian has ruled that a fast-track procedure being used by Republicans to try to repeal ObamaCare expires on Sept. 30, setting a fast-approaching deadline for the GOP to repeal the law.

The parliamentarian ruled that the process known as reconciliation expires on Sept. 30, which is the end of the fiscal year, according to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee.

{mosads}The move severely limits the amount of time Republicans have to pass a repeal of ObamaCare. Chances for repeal had already plummeted after the Senate failed to pass a bill in July, but some Republicans are still holding out hope.

After Sept. 30, Republicans would need 60 votes in the Senate, meaning they would need eight Democrats to vote for a repeal bill, which will not happen.

Republicans, many of whom had already moved on from repeal, face a busy September of funding the government and raising the debt ceiling, making time for action on repeal extremely slim.

“Today’s determination by the Senate parliamentarian is a major victory for the American people and everyone who fought against President Trump’s attempt to take away health care from up to 32 million people,” Sanders said in a statement.

“We need to work together to expand, not cut, health care for millions of Americans who desperately need it,” he added.

House conservatives, though, responded to the news by pushing for a quick vote before the deadline.

The House Freedom Caucus has called for passing a repeal-only measure that Congress passed in 2015, with a two-year delay to allow time for a replacement to be formulated.

But that approach was already rejected by the Senate and has drawn resistance from moderate Republicans.

“Conservatives have pushed for passing ’15 Ocare repeal w/2 yr delay thru reconciliation,” Alyssa Farah, spokeswoman for the Freedom Caucus, wrote on Twitter. “Then bipartisan replace.”

 

Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) are also pushing their own replacement bill, which gives block grants to states to spend on health care. That approach also now faces a Sept. 30 deadline.

Theoretically, Republicans could try again with the fast-track procedure next year, but they are planning to use reconciliation for tax reform instead. Passing tax reform and ObamaCare repeal, both highly contentious issues, in the same fast-track bill would be extremely difficult.

– Updated at 2:30 EST

Tags Bernie Sanders Bill Cassidy Lindsey Graham

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