Senate Republicans appear to have conceded defeat on repealing ObamaCare this year, as the newly released budget resolution for fiscal year 2018 focuses almost entirely on tax reform.
The draft released Friday only includes legislating instructions to the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee, which don’t have jurisdiction over health insurance.
It doesn’t direct the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee or the House Energy and Commerce Committee to craft legislation — a sign that tax reform has become the new priority and that Republican plans for ObamaCare repeal are on ice.
At the start of the year, the House and Senate passed reconciliation instructions allowing them to pass ObamaCare repeal through the Senate on a simple majority vote.
That budget tool expires on Saturday, putting them back at square one.
After seven years of campaign promises, the Senate on Tuesday gave up on a last-gasp ObamaCare repeal bill from Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by National Industries for the Blind - Tight security for Capitol rally; Biden agenda slows Trump offers sympathy for those charged with Jan. 6 offenses Lindsey Graham: Police need 'to take a firm line' with Sept. 18 rally attendees MORE (R-S.C.) and Bill CassidyBill CassidyGOP senator on Texas abortion law: Supreme Court will 'swat it away' when 'it comes to them in an appropriate manner' GOP hopes spending traps derail Biden agenda Sunday shows preview: States deal with fallout of Ida; Texas abortion law takes effect MORE (R-La.).
The decision effectively ended any chance Republicans had of repealing ObamaCare this year, and potentially before the 2018 midterm elections.
There is still a possibility that some elements of ObamaCare repeal could make their way into a tax reform bill. The Senate Finance and House Ways and Means committees have jurisdiction over some health-care matters, including Medicaid.
Each version of ObamaCare repeal would have made drastic changes to the Medicaid program, including ending the law’s expansion.
The budget resolution includes a reserve fund, just in case the committees decide they want to tackle some elements of repeal. But many in the GOP have warned that combining the two bills could jeopardize a tax overhaul that they say the economy desperately needs.
This means Republicans will likely have to wait until the 2019 budget to use the fast-track process, known as reconciliation, to pass a repeal bill with just a simple majority.