Senate Republicans are trying to fast-track Trumpcare bill during Comey hearing

Republicans are trying to push forward their Obamacare repeal bill as everyone is focused on James Comey

By Matthew Rozsa

Published June 8, 2017 12:45PM (EDT)


The attention of the political world may be fixated on President Donald Trump and former FBI Director James Comey, but that doesn't mean Senate Republicans aren't still trying to push through a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

After a Republican Party lunch on Tuesday, Politico reports that Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina proclaimed that the current version of the health care bill contains "promising proposals" and that, while he doesn't know "what it looks like legislatively," he believes "there better be [a vote this month], because this is not like fine wine, it does not get better with age."

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Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana echoed Graham's thoughts, saying that he was "very encouraged" by the Republican draft even if "it's not everything I want."

Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas drew on a classic cinema for an analogy to describe the Republican Party's perception of the bill negotiations, telling Politico that "we’re in the back seat with Thelma and Louise and we need to get out of the car. So details matter, but we need to get out of the car. That was the pre-eminent message. The upshot is: This has to happen."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reportedly told his colleagues that "failure is not an option."

One key problem holding up the bill's progress is that, in order for it to meet the budget rules known as "reconciliation," the Republican legislation must save at least $1 billion in the committees that control health care policy, according to a report by The Washington Post. If it fails to do this, then Democrats will be able to filibuster it, whereas if it does than a simple majority will allow its passage — something Republicans can only provide if most of their members toe the party line.

Democrats are claiming that the bill doesn't save at least $1 billion in the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and that the Senate parliamentarian must determine whether that is the case. Republicans, on the other hand, are claiming that it does save at least $1 billion because Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi of Wyoming says so.

Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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