John McCain (R-Ariz.) and other Republican senators are saying what everybody seems to already know about the Republican repeal/reform-and-replace effort. After eight years of campaigning to repeal Obamacare, it increasingly seems that the Republican effort is about to die within sight of its goal.
“I think my view is it’s probably going to be dead,” McCain said on “Face The Nation,” adding, “but I am- I’ve been wrong.”
McCain said that if the current bill fails, Republicans should try again with a bill that aims to win some Democrat votes. “Introduce a bill,” McCain said. “Say to the Democrats, ‘Here’s a bill.’ It doesn’t mean they control it. It means they can have amendments considered. And even when they lose, then they’re part of the process. That’s what democracy is supposed to be all about.”
The close margins in the Senate, 52 Republicans to 48 Democrats, mean that, unless some Democrats cross the aisle to vote for the Republican bill, the GOP can only lose two votes and still be able to pass the bill. The GOP health plan has come under fire from moderates like Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) as well as from conservatives like Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mike Lee (R-Utah).
Senator Bill Cassidy (R-La.) agreed with McCain’s assessment on “Fox News Sunday.” “Clearly, the draft plan is dead,” Cassidy said, “but we don’t know what’s in the serious rewrite” of the bill.
Even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) admitted the bleak future of the bill. McConnell said that, while he isn’t giving up on repeal, Republicans may need to work with Democrats on a short-term fix for Obamacare.
President Trump and other Republicans from Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) to Rand Paul (R-Ky.) have called upon congressional Republicans to simply repeal Obamacare if they cannot agree on a replacement. A repeal bill would face the additional hurdle of a cloture vote that would require 60 votes for passage.
Sasse suggests a new version of the 2015 Obamacare reconciliation bill. Unless Collins, Murkowski and other GOP holdouts on the Medicaid expansion reverse themselves, this bill would also fall short of even a simple majority.
Without a change of heart from either the Republican moderate or conservative wing, the effort to repeal or reform Obamacare seems to be reaching a dead end. While the future of health insurance in America is uncertain, it is certain that the Republican base would view a failure to repeal Obamacare as the betrayal of a core promise.
The failure to reform Obamacare while they have the opportunity, the single most visible goal of the Republican Party for most of the past decade, could rip the party apart.