Mitch McConnell (AP/J. Scott Applewhite)

Mitch McConnell punts on unpopular health care bill until after the July recess

Facing major defections from both wings of the Republican Party, Senate majority leader will try to regroup


Jeremy Binckes
June 27, 2017 6:43PM (UTC)

After running into steep opposition within his own party, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is delaying the Senate's vote on the Better Care Reconciliation Act — the Republican Senate's version of the Obamacare repeal bill — until after the Fourth of July recess.

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News of the delay came less than a day after the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office announced that 22 million more Americans would be left without health insurance within a decade — which is only slightly better than the 23 million that the House health care bill would cause to be uninsured, according to an earlier budget office estimate.

Nothing about the budget office report did anything to reassure Senate Republicans, many of whom were already on the fence. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said on Monday she would be voting against even bringing the bill to the Senate floor. She was joined by Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada. With Republicans needing 50 sure "yes" votes in order for McConnell's plan — a speedy and tidy reconciliation process — to go off without a hitch, the loss of two votes brought the Kentucky Republican into dangerous territory.

Two other senators — Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Ron Johnson, R-Wis. — have since said they would also vote against the bill, The New York Times reported on Tuesday, meaning that McConnell faced certain defeat if he tried to force a vote this week. Several other Republican senators have been leaning toward a possible "no" vote for some time, including Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Rob Portman of Ohio, according to reports.

There was more intraparty squabbling on Tuesday. Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a 2016 presidential candidate, went to Washington and attacked the bill.

“Who would lose this coverage?” Kasich said, according to the Times. “The mentally ill, the drug addicted, the chronically ill. I believe these are people that need to have coverage.” To make matters worse for the Republican congressional leadership, Kasich was joined by Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat. Together, the two of them gave the image of bipartisan opposition, as compared with McConnell's go-it-alone strategy, which so far has proven a total failure.

 

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Jeremy Binckes

Jeremy Binckes is the senior news editor at Salon.com.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Better Care Act Health Care John Hickenlooper John Kasich Mitch Mcconnell Obamacare Repeal Susan Collins




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