Senate continues voting on Obamacare repeal options
iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The Senate is in the thick of a potentially dayslong process to find a health care plan that Republicans might be able to actually pass.
Senators will vote on numerous possibilities for repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. The votes are being held in the hope that Republicans can reach some kind of consensus that would allow both chambers of Congress to pass a piece of health care legislation.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell set the scene as he kicked off the second day of health care-related votes Wednesday morning.
“Ultimately, we want to get legislation that will finally end the Obamacare status quo through Congress and to the president’s desk,” he said.
The Senate is expected to vote on a straight repeal-only option based on a piece of legislation from 2015 that passed both chambers of Congress but was vetoed by then-President Barack Obama.
Although that language cleared the House and Senate back then, some Senate Republicans acknowledge now that the vote was symbolic. It was used by some at the time to send a message to Obama and to their constituents back home even though they knew it would be vetoed. More recently, several Republicans have said they won’t back a straight repeal-only option like that one; as of now, it will likely fail.
Senate Republicans’ first attempt at passing their own replacement legislation failed last night, with nine Republicans joining all of the chamber’s Democrats to defeat it, 43-57.
That outcome was not a surprise, given that the bill had previously been pulled from the Senate floor due to lack of support.
Republicans from several factions of the party had previously stated their objections to it for a variety of reasons, including its proposed cuts to Medicaid, failure to cut premiums sufficiently and failure to repeal Obamacare entirely.
Republican leadership is expected to move through various versions of repeal, including possible limited repeal options that would only scrap portions of the Affordable Care Act, such as the individual and employer mandates.
After those votes, the full Senate — even Democrats — will be able to offer additional amendments.
That so-called “vote-a-rama” later this week could open the floodgates for all senators to introduce as many amendments as they want.
That process could last until senators are physically exhausted.
Democrats have said they have “hundreds” of amendments to offer and are preparing for a marathon.
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