Pence vows to end Oba­macare by La­bor Day

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - BY TOM HOWELL JR.

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.”

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