Washington Special for News Talk Florida -Senate Republicans have decided put off a vote on a bill that would repeal ObamaCare. Senate GOP leaders had hoped to move a House-passed package repealing parts of the controversial healthcare reform law before Thanksgiving and now it is possible the bill may never reach the floor for a vote.
Meanwhile, the independent group Real Politics has looked at polls taken over the past year and every one taken shows that while most people don’t like all of Obamacare they don’t want it repealed. Well over an average of 70 percent of those polled want Republicans and Democrats to work together and fix the law and not to repeal it.
At the moment in the Senate there is no clear path to getting a bill to the floor for a vote any time soon and will likely be put off until 2016 or maybe 2017. There is even a better than 60 percent chance that the bill may not ever make it to the floor because of a Republican battle between conservatives and moderates.
“There could be procedural reasons or vote reasons why we can’t get a bill at all, so it seems the one common denominator amongst everybody is to not mess it up,” said a Senate GOP aide told reporters from The Hill.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) vowed last week that he would pass legislation repealing ObamaCare. “We want to make sure the American people know we’re still on their side, and that’s the reason we intend to send ObamaCare repeal to the president’s desk,” he told reporters.
The Hill is reporting that McConnell may lose five conservative and three moderate senators in conference putting support at 46 votes. That is five votes short of even a simple majority and things are getting more complex and not easier to get something to the floor that could pass.
Also being reported by The Hill is that while there is clearly a dislike for Obamacare in the Senate getting rid of the law that now covers 16 million people in the United States without a strong replacement plan would likely hand the Democrats the White House in 2016. For the record the House passed bill that the Senate is looking at only repeals six of the law’s 419 provisions or 1.4 percent of it.
“There are five senators that say you have to repeal all of ObamaCare or they’d vote against it, and you have three that say you have to take Planned Parenthood out or they won’t vote for reconciliation,” said another Senate GOP aide.
Three centrists, Sens. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), would be reluctant to vote for the reconciliation package if it continues to include language defunding Planned Parenthood. All three have raised concerns about defunding the family planning-services group.
McConnell only needs 51 votes instead of the customary 60 because he is moving the repeal measure under a special budgetary process known as reconciliation. The downside of the strategy is that that package can only include provisions designed to impact the budget deficit.
As a result, popular parts of the law, such as the prohibition against discriminating against pre-existing conditions and allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ health plans until age 26, cannot be included.
Conservative senators led by Florida’s Marco Rubio, Texas Ted Cruz and Utah’s Mike Lee are going all in on the total repeal of the entire law. They argue that the House repeal bill does not go far enough and could actually help establish ObamaCare as the law of the land for years to come.
If the Senate put only the most unpopular provisions, such as the individual and employer mandates, and the so-called Cadillac tax on expensive health plans and the medical device tax it is possible that the Democrats could support the bill calling it a non-partisan way make Obamacare stronger.
If that were to happen the Democrats could grab the momentum and use it as a way to repair the law in a way that they could use it in the 2016 election cycle. They could step in and say,” Why repeal Obamacare if we can work together and fix what is un popular? “
Rubio, Cruz and Lee came out with a statement that criticized the House plan for not being strong enough.
“This simply isn’t good enough. Each of us campaigned on a promise to fully repeal Obamacare and a reconciliation bill is the best way to send such legislation to President Obama’s desk,” they said.
Rubio’s stance is especially significant because he is now seen within the Senate GOP conference as the most viable mainstream presidential candidate in the general election. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who is also running for president, is expected to vote with them against anything that falls significantly short of a full repeal.
Right now there is no chance of the Senate sending a bill to the floor that can passed and sent to President Obama’s desk where he would veto it.