After the latest attempt to bring an alternative healthcare bill to a vote failed like its predecessors, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell caved to conservative demands and promised an Obamacare repeal vote without an accompanying replacement. The critical opposition of Senator Mike Lee and Senator Jerry Moran killed the latest attempt. Each attempt has been plagued by defections from both conservatives and moderates.
The Senate Majority Leader released a statement late on Monday announcing the change after the cancelled vote.
— Leader McConnell (@SenateMajLdr) July 18, 2017
Senator Mitch McConnell correctly noted that House Republicans and Senate Republicans voted to repeal Obamacare in 2015. This includes the vast majority of those currently in office. In the Senate, the Obamacare repeal passed 52 to 47, as all but two Republicans voted for the bill. Senator Mark Kirk (defeated in 2016) and Senator Susan Collins voted against the repeal. This means that 51 of 52 Senate Republicans backed the 2015 repeal. Republican voters will remember if these senators vote differently in 2017.
In addition to calls by Senator Lee, Senator Cruz, Senator Sasse, and others, President Trump has also lent his support to a full repeal. He has stated that Republicans should pursue a full repeal if efforts to pass a replacement bill fail.
Political Implications of the Obamacare Repeal
Many political observers have also noted McConnell’s shrewd choice of timing for the Obamacare repeal. Although the repeal follows another embarrassing defeat, the two-year delay ensures that Republican voters will remain highly motivated going into the 2018 election. As Ben Shapiro observed, this will make 2018 a referendum on Obamacare.
Two year delay means 2018 is a full scale referendum on repeal of Obamacare.
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) July 18, 2017
Although it remains to be seen whether Senate Republicans will keep their promises, and a filibuster could significantly delay a repeal, the Senate Majority Leader has finally bowed to the concerns of conservative voters. Republicans must hold his feet to the fire, while encouraging their other elected representatives to vote yes on repeal.
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