The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

They Were for It Before They Were Against It

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.


Healthcare reform is not going well for the Republicans, even though they have called for the repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), better known as Obamacare, since the legislation was signed into law in 2010.  Republicans have had seven years to write, debate, and agree to a plan to repeal Obamacare and replace it with something.  They promised to repeal ACA for every election since 2010 and as a result, retook the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the Presidency.

Six months into President Trump’s first year, all healthcare reform momentum has stopped.

The Republicans decided to utilize budget reconciliation to repeal and replace Obamacare, a special process to get budget legislation passed quickly, especially through the Senate, where it normally takes three-fifths of senators present and voting (usually 60) to avoid a filibuster.  Under reconciliation, it takes a simple majority, or only 50 senators if the vice president is called to serve in his role as President of the Senate for the 51st vote.  There are 52 Republicans in the Senate.  Citizens Against Government Waste discusses the reconciliation process here.

The House passed their repeal and replacement bill, the American Health Care Act, albeit barely.  The vote was 217 to 213.  The bill was sent to the Senate, where it is stuck like a bug on a rug.

For weeks, the Senate has been unable to come to agreement on a repeal and replacement bill.  Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has now proposed to bring up the 2015 Obamacare repeal bill, H.R. 3762,  that was passed in 2015 by both chambers and sent to President Obama, where it was promptly vetoed.

Now it’s different, President Trump will sign that bill.  There would be a two-year delay in implementing the provisions, giving the House and the Senate enough time to craft replacement legislation that would, according to Leader McConnell, “provide for a stable transition period to a patient-centered health care system that gives Americans access to quality, affordable care."

In 2015, the vote to repeal Obamacare passed 52 to 47.  Only two Republicans voted “no” on the 2015 bill, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), who lost his election in 2016 and was replaced by Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.)

Of the 52 “yea,” four of the senators are no longer in office (Sens. Ayotte, Coats, Sessions, and Vitter).  Three of those (all except Ayotte) were succeeded by fellow Republicans (Sens. Todd Young (Ind.), Luther Strange (Ala.), and John Kennedy (La.)), who constituents might be predisposed to a similar position.

Now, recalcitrant Senators who have not been able to agree to a repeal and replace measure this year, but voted for the 2015 repeal bill, are against that bill.  Why are they suddenly getting cold feet about voting for a bill they supported in 2015?  Do they want to keep the collapsing Obamacare?  Who knows, maybe you can ask them.

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