The House of Representatives passed Friday what was supposed to be their best shot at an Obamacare repeal measure to get through the Senate and onto the President’s desk. However, while they know that they will get no Democratic support for bill there are at least five GOP senators led by Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas that will not support the legislation because they say it is not strong enough.
“This simply isn’t good enough,” Cruz and Rubio said in a joint statement.
The trio noted that many in the GOP caucus campaigned on the FULL REPEAL of Obamacare; not a partial or some ill-fated attempt that ends in a veto.
The current House bill would repeal major pieces of Obamacare including the individual mandate, employer mandate and taxes on medical device sales and high-cost “Cadillac” insurance plans. But much of what is left in place: State Exchanges, Insurance Company Subsidies all the language about what’s covered and what’s not will remain. In the end, it’s been estimated the bill will repeal just two percent of the law.
The plan for the bill, The Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act, was crafted to overcome a Democratic filibuster in the Senate by using a legislative maneuver known as reconciliation, which only requires a majority in the Senate for passage.
That makes it immune to a filibuster from minority Democrats. But the process is complicated, in part because reconciliation can only be used on measures that decrease the federal deficit. Full-scale Obamacare repeal, the Congressional Budget Office has said, would add $353 billion.
According to Talking Points Memo the Senate GOP conservatives are willing to sit this out and not support the bill.
Rubio, Cruz and the opposition by at least four other senators brings the Republican support for the bill around 51 votes, just the line the necessary for it to advance. But more GOP senators will also be facing pressure from Heritage Action, the political arm of the Heritage Foundation, which came out against the bill earlier this week.
It’s a given that President Obama would veto the repeal bill, regardless. However, the thinking behind the effort is that it would be a dry-run for 2017, when a Republican President would presumably be sitting in the White House to sign it.
“This bill will not restore Americans’ health care freedom because it leaves the main pillars of the law in place,” the Heritage Action statement said. “GOP leaders are violating an explicit promise made in the budget and walking back on their public commitment to fully repeal Obamacare. By doing so they are undermining any serious effort to repeal the law in 2017.”
The bill would also partially defund Planned Parenthood, and a similar fault line has formed there, though most anti-abortion groups support the measure.
“Instead of using the appropriations process with all the leverage and media spotlight necessary to force President Obama and Senate Democrats to cave on an issue, they chose a process that offers no leverage, no media spotlight, and no chance of overcoming a unified Democrat front,” Erik Erickson wrote at Red State this week. “Its an exercise in high-end failure theatre that also insulates congressmen who just voted to fund Planned Parenthood from any retribution from their voters.”
Friday’s bill only targets some of the unpopular aspects of Obamacare — including the individual and employer mandate, the “Cadillac” tax, and the medical device tax — in a way which the CBO has said will decrease the deficit. But because it is only a partial repeal that leaves in place things like the Medicaid expansion and the exchange subsidies, some conservatives are warning it does not go far enough.