Pence vows to end Obamacare by Labor Day
Vice President Mike Pence on Saturday said eliminating Obamacare remains the chief priority for the administration as it works with congressional Republicans to replace the health care law before the summer is over.
Mr. Pence said Congress has no choice but to scrap the 2010 Affordable Care Act as insurers pull out of the marketplace and request double-digit premium increases.
“Obamacare is dead. That’s why Obamacare must go,” Mr. Pence said in remarks from Milwaukee. “You’d have to be blinded by partisanship not to believe otherwise, and, unfortunately, some people are — Democrats in Congress, to be exact.”
Republicans are using fast-track budget rules to carve Democrats out of the repeal effort, but they’re still trying to pin down a plan that can satisfy at least 50 members of their narrow Senate majority.
The House GOP acted already, so the Trump administration is banking on the Senate to follow suit by Independence Day, prompting an outcry from Democrats who say Republicans are speeding ahead without public hearings.
“We have no idea what’s being proposed,” Sen. Claire McCaskill, Missouri Democrat, said in fiery remarks last week from the Senate Finance Committee dais.
Public outrage over estimated coverage losses in the GOP’s plan nearly derailed the effort in the House, yet Senate Republicans have claimed momentum in recent days. Democrats and their progressive allies have responded with alarm, even as the news cycle is dominated by former FBI director James B. Comey’s testimony to senators probing alleged Russian meddling in last year’s election.
“This year, nobody would blame people who are feeling a little exhausted by politics,” Sen. Ron Wyden, Oregon Democrat, said in the weekly Democratic address. “But the fact of the matter is, there are critical, life-changing decisions being made about Americans’ health care right now in the United States Senate that should have people on high alert.”
Senate Republicans must dislodge a series of sticking points before they can proceed, however.
Aides said the Senate’s main referee, the parliamentarian, has raised concerns about language that would bar people from using refundable tax credits in the GOP plan for abortion.
Under the budget process known as “reconciliation,” the parliamentarian can scratch policy changes that aren’t related to the budget during a vetting process known in Capitol-speak as the “Byrd bath.”