Repub­li­cans to roll out re­peal of Oba­macare bill

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

Se­nate Repub­li­cans are fin­ish­ing their Oba­macare re­peal bill and will re­lease a dis­cus­sion draft Thurs­day, lead­ers said Tues­day, hop­ing to counter Democrats’ com­plaints of se­crecy and rally GOP sup­port as they push to­ward a floor vote next week.

Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell also said he ex­pects a for­mal bud­get “score” of the emerg­ing plan to be avail­able be­fore the vote, an­swer­ing one of many com­plaints Democrats have lodged against the Repub­li­cans’ process for writ­ing a health care bill.

“The Se­nate will soon have a chance to turn the page on this failed law,” said Mr. McCon­nell, Ken­tucky Repub­li­can.

Yet lead­er­ship is still try­ing to cob­ble to­gether sup­port for the plan, a process that will in­ten­sify once the text is re­leased and the Con­gres­sional Bud­get Of­fice weighs in.

For now, though, the se­crecy con­tin­ues to weigh on the GOP.

Mul­ti­ple Se­nate Repub­li­cans con­firmed on Tues­day that Mr. McCon­nell is, in fact, the one who is pulling the strings at this point.

Sen. Mike Lee, Utah Repub­li­can, said in a Face­book video to con­stituents that he hasn’t seen the health bill, even though he’s on the 13-mem­ber work­ing group charged with writ­ing it.

“It’s not be­ing writ­ten by us,” he said. “It’s ap­par­ently be­ing writ­ten by a small hand­ful of staffers for mem­bers of the Repub­li­can lead­er­ship in the Se­nate. So if you’re frus­trated by the lack of trans­parency in this process, I share your frus­tra­tion. I share it whole­heart­edly.”

GOP lead­ers can­not af­ford to lose more than two Repub­li­can votes. It’s not clear what the vote count is at this point.

“None of us know what the bill is, so there would be no way to de­ter­mine whether there’s 50 votes or not,” said Sen. Bob Corker, Ten­nessee Repub­li­can.

Pres­i­dent Trump re­port­edly wants the Se­nate to come up with a bill that has “more heart” than the bill the House passed in May.

The CBO’s anal­y­sis could re­veal whether the re­write meets Mr. Trump’s test and could de­ter­mine whether GOP mod­er­ates jump on board, or whether con­ser­va­tives who want to kill as much of the 2010 Af­ford­able Care Act as pos­si­ble shun the plan.

Repub­li­cans are us­ing fast-track bud­get rules to avoid a Demo­cratic fil­i­buster — they say Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Charles E. Schumer and his troops are only in­ter­ested in gov­ern­ment-run health care.

The GOP base is count­ing on Se­nate Repub­li­cans to de­liver on their re­peal prom­ises be­fore po­lit­i­cal mo­men­tum for Mr. Trump’s agenda runs dry ahead of the mid-term elec­tions.

Democrats are pil­ing on from the side­lines, us­ing par­lia­men­tary tools to slow Se­nate busi­ness even more than they al­ready had been. On Tues­day they ob­jected to a rou­tine re­quest to hold af­ter­noon com­mit­tee hear­ings, shut­ting down work in the in­tel­li­gence com­mit­tee, a For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee hear­ing on com­bat­ting pan­demics and a Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee hear­ing on con­gres­sional in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

“As we’ve made clear to our Repub­li­can col­leagues, if they con­tinue to in­sist on ram­ming through a se­cret health care bill with­out any pub­lic in­put or de­bate, they shouldn’t ex­pect busi­ness as usual in the Se­nate,” Mr. Schumer said.

Though their ac­tions are largely sym­bolic, Democrats want to make the process as painful as pos­si­ble for the GOP ma­jor­ity.

If Repub­li­cans can clear a bill, it would go back to the House, which could ei­ther ac­cept it, or else de­mand a con­fer­ence com­mit­tee where ne­go­tia­tors from both cham­bers would ham­mer out a fi­nal com­pro­mise.

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