GOP health care di­vi­sions mul­ti­ply un­der Trump pres­sure

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By David Weigel

WASHINGTON» Repub­li­can di­vi­sions over health care mul­ti­plied Mon­day as Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump pres­sured GOP senators to act quickly, and Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence sug­gested they might have to re­vert to a straight­for­ward “Obamacare” repeal if they can’t agree on an al­ter­na­tive.

Con­sen­sus on a re­place­ment seemed more re­mote than ever as senators re­turned to the Capi­tol from a Fourth of July re­cess. Some law­mak­ers spent the break fac­ing crit­ics of Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell’s bill or voic­ing crit­i­cism of their own. But Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Repub­li­can, told re­porters that a re­vised bill would be un­veiled this week, and “the goal con­tin­ues to be to” vote next week.

McCon­nell abruptly post­poned a vote last month, lack­ing GOP sup­port for leg­is­la­tion he wrote largely in se­cret.

To suc­ceed, the new leg­is­la­tion will have to ad­dress the con­cerns of con­ser­va­tives such as Mike Lee of Utah and Ted Cruz of Texas, who want a more full­blown repeal, and mod­er­ates like Su­san Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who want es­sen­tially the op­po­site, a more gen­er­ous bill.

McCon­nell has lit­tle room for er­ror as he tries to pass a bill with 50 GOP votes, and Pence as the tiebreaker, in a Se­nate split 5248 be­tween Repub­li­cans and Democrats. Some GOP senators are ques­tion­ing McCon­nell’s par­ti­san ap­proach, and the ma­jor­ity leader him­self ac­knowl­edged to a home-state au­di­ence in Ken­tucky last week that if he can’t get the job done with Repub­li­cans alone, he’ll have to turn to Democrats to shore up the mar­ket for in­di­vid­ual in­sur­ance buy­ers.

Collins, re­fer­ring to Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s Af­ford­able Care Act, passed in 2010 with­out a sin­gle Repub­li­can vote, told re­porters: “I be­lieve that we should not re­peat the mis­take that Pres­i­dent Obama made in pass­ing ma­jor leg­is­la­tion with no sup­port from the other party.”

The Repub­li­can Party has been campaigning against Obama’s law ever since, but hav­ing rid­den the is­sue to con­trol of the House, Se­nate and the White House, they’re find­ing it nearly im­pos­si­ble to co­a­lesce around an al­ter­na­tive.

Pence ap­peared on con­ser­va­tive host Rush Lim­baugh’s ra­dio show to rule out work­ing with Democrats: “The pres­i­dent’s made it very clear. We be­lieve if they can’t pass this care­fully crafted repeal and re­place bill, do those two things si­mul­ta­ne­ously, we ought to just repeal only,” and then turn to re­place­ment leg­is­la­tion later on, he said, although Trump has at times dan­gled the prospect of work­ing with Democrats.

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