Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell missed his self-imposed July 4th deadline to pass the Senate healthcare bill.
Senate Republican leadership previously set a deadline of July 4th to pass the Senate healthcare bill, otherwise known as the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), and now McConnell has to scramble to pass the bill before the August recess.
McConnell delayed last week’s vote on the BCRA, sensing a lack of support from both moderate and conservative Republicans in the Senate. Republicans maintain a slim majority in the upper chamber; the Majority Leader can only afford to lose two votes and have Vice President Mike Pence break the tie.
Conservative senators such as Rand Paul (R-KY), Mike Lee (R-UT), Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Ron Johnson (R-WI) came out against the bill once the Senate leadership revealed the BCRA. Moderate senators such as Susan Collins (R-ME), Dean Heller (R-NV), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) opposed the bill for cutting Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion.
Despite McConnell’s inability to get Senate Republicans to coalesce around the BCRA, he remains optimistic that senators will find a way to compromise. McConnell said, “We made good progress.”
The Majority Leader added, “Everyone around the table is interested in getting to yes — is interested in getting an outcome. Because we know the status quo is simply unacceptable, unsustainable and no action is just not an option.”
Senator John Thune (R-SD), a member of Senate leadership, believes that the July 4th recess will give lawmakers more time to work on brokering a deal on healthcare. Thune said, “I think most people are acceptant that this is a very difficult, complicated undertaking, and willing to, you know, allow time particularly for some of our colleagues who feel they need more time.”
Sen. Johnson concurred with Thune, arguing that extra time could allow for senators to improve the bill. “I’m just appreciative of the fact that we’re going to be given that time, and I’ll be given a chance, hopefully, to make the case to improve this bill better and really focus on the premiums,” Thune explained.
Sens. Cruz and Mike Lee have pushed for an amendment to the BCRA that would allow insurers to offer health care plans that might not include all of Obamacare’s pre-existing conditions. White House legislative affairs director Marc Short suggested that the White House could back the proposal to bring conservative senators to the negotiating table.
Short said, “We hope it’s part of the process of bringing everybody together.”
Republicans could take another route. President Donald Trump recently suggested that if Senate leadership remains unable to pass the BCRA, then Republicans should first repeal and then replace Obamacare.
After Trump’s tweet, both Sens. Rand Paul and Ben Sasse (R-NE) agreed with President Trump that Republicans should uphold their promise to repeal Obamacare.
If Republican Senators are unable to pass what they are working on now, they should immediately REPEAL, and then REPLACE at a later date!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 30, 2017