As I wrote on Tuesday, lawmakers have started taking the first steps in the massive initiative to repeal and replace Obamacare.
Senators passed a budget resolution early Thursday (Jan. 12th) morning that is being used to roll back the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The House will vote on the resolution tomorrow.
Passing this resolution is an important first step in dismantling Obamacare because it would allow lawmakers to use the “budget reconciliation process” – special rules that will make it impossible for the Dems to filibuster.
The vote fell largely along party lines, but Kentucky Republican Rand Paul voted “nay” because the budget resolution didn’t balance. Paul supports the idea to repeal Obamacare, but “putting nearly $10 trillion more in debt on the American people’s backs through a budget that never balances is not the way to get there,” he said.
Paul was the only Republican to vote against the resolution.
Republicans argue that consumers in the individual insurance market need relief from ever-increasing premiums (as one of them, I agree), but Democrats worry what will happen if Obamacare is repealed before an alternative is set in place.
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders insists that thousands of Americans will die if the GOP resolution moves forward. “Up to 30 million Americans will lose their healthcare with many thousands dying as a result,” said Sanders. “Because when you have no health insurance and you can’t go to a doctor or a hospital, you die.”
The voting session began Wednesday night and continued for more than six hours. The debate was fierce, and lawmakers voted on more than 19 amendments (none of which added to the resolution). Over 150 amendments were filed.
Much of the night’s action came from the Left, with Democrats using the long voting session to take tough votes on entitlement programs and healthcare.
The Dems warn that if Republicans mess this up they will “own any political backlash and roil the insurance market,” reports The Hill.
“If Republicans go forward with this plan, they may mollify their base, but they will ostracize and hurt the American people, and ultimately lose in the court of public opinion,” said Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY).
January 27th is the deadline for committee proposals on repealing Obamacare, but “we have assurances from leadership that this date is not a date that is set in stone,” said Ohio Senator Rob Portman (R).
The issue of when to replace the ACA is causing rifts among GOP members, but Donald Trump has stated that “repeal and replace” will occur “simultaneously.”
“It will be various segments, you understand, but will most likely be on the same day or the same week, but probably, the same day, could be the same hour,” said Trump.
South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham says “that’s not where we’re headed” and urges Trump to speak with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
McConnell, meanwhile, has managed to sidestep most of the “how and when” questions regarding Obamacare.