Af­ter Se­nate GOP’s fail­ure, what’s next?

Many re­main com­mit­ted to re­peal­ing Oba­macare

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WASH­ING­TON The GOP’s sev­enyear cru­sade to re­peal and re­place Oba­macare dis­in­te­grated in the wee hours of Fri­day morn­ing. So now what?

Repub­li­cans were ask­ing them­selves that very ques­tion as they tried to make sense of the Se­nate’s stun­ning vote, when three GOP sen­a­tors joined all the cham­ber’s Democrats to sink a bare-bones re­peal bill. That flop fol­lowed two oth­ers ear­lier in the week, as Repub­li­cans failed to muster 51 votes for any bill aimed at un­rav­el­ing the Af­ford­able Care Act.

“We’re eval­u­at­ing the op­tions. That’s lit­er­ally where we are right now,” said Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., chair­man of a key House health com­mit­tee.

Here’s a look at a few of those op­tions and how they might play out:

REPUB­LI­CANS CAN GIVE UP ON HEALTH CARE AND MOVE TO OTHER IS­SUES

That seemed to be the mes­sage from Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell, R-Ky., af­ter Fri­day’s roll call was over.

“Our only re­gret tonight is that we didn’t achieve what we had hoped to ac­com­plish,” McCon­nell said. “It’s time to move on.”

Repub­li­cans have other is­sues to tackle, in­clud­ing a must-pass de­fense mea­sure, an­nual fund­ing bills to keep the gov­ern­ment open, and tax re­form. Repub­li­cans need a leg­isla­tive vic­tory, and so far they have spent an ex­as­per­at­ing seven months on health care with noth­ing to show for it.

So it’s no won­der that some law­mak­ers are ea­ger to turn the page.

“Right now, we have very lit­tle to go home and talk about,” said Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C. “We have not de­liv­ered.”

REPUB­LI­CANS CAN TRY AGAIN AND HOPE FOR A DIF­FER­ENT RE­SULT

“It’s not a death knell,” in­sisted Rep. Mark Mead­ows, an­other North Carolina Repub­li­can and the chair­man of the House Free­dom Cau­cus, a band of arch-con­ser­va­tives. He said Repub­li­cans would “re­group and stay fo­cused” on re­peal­ing and re­plac­ing the 2010 law.

Mead­ows said he is hope­ful Repub­li­cans can re­vive some rem­nants of the now-mori­bund Se­nate GOP bill. Two of the most vi­able op­tions, ac­cord­ing to Mead­ows:

A pro­posal by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, to al­low in­sur­ance com­pa­nies to of­fer bare-bones in­sur­ance plans as long as they also of­fer the more com­pre­hen­sive cover­age re­quired un­der Oba­macare.

A bill crafted by Sens. Lind­sey Gra­ham, R-S.C., and Bill Cas­sidy, R-La., that would keep much of the Oba­macare taxes in place but send that money to the states in the form of block grants so gover­nors can de­cide how to use it.

Other Repub­li­cans echoed Meadow’s op­ti­mism and said they can not walk away from their years-long prom­ise to un­ravel the Af­ford­able Care Act.

“We can’t give up on health care,” said Rep. Barry Lou­d­er­milk, R-Ga. “It may take a dozen more times,” but the GOP will pick up the pieces and sol­dier on, he said.

REPUB­LI­CANS CAN FIGHT WITH EACH OTHER ABOUT WHO IS TO BLAME FOR THE RE­PEAL-AND-RE­PLACE COL­LAPSE

Re­crim­i­na­tions were served up Fri­day morn­ing, par­tic­u­larly from House GOP law­mak­ers who passed their own ver­sion of an Oba­macare re­place­ment bill in May — in a po­lit­i­cally tough vote — only to watch in dis­may as the Se­nate failed to fol­low suit.

Se­nate Repub­li­cans “ran out of back­bone,” said Rep. Dave Brat, R-Va.

Mitch McCon­nell is “an ab­ject fail­ure” and should re­sign, said Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala.

What about Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who de­liv­ered the de­cid­ing “no” vote dur­ing the Se­nate de­bate?

“I guess he likes Oba­macare,” said Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho.

Repub­li­cans have been con­sumed by in­fight­ing for much of the health care de­bate — with mod­er­ates bat­tling con­ser­va­tives on how far to go in re­peal­ing Oba­macare and lead­ing to Fri­day’s stale­mate. Whether the GOP can move past those bat­tles — or whether they will deepen — is not clear.

REPUB­LI­CANS CAN SIT DOWN WITH DEMOCRATS AND TRY TO CRAFT A BI­PAR­TI­SAN COM­PRO­MISE

Democrats, along with a hand­ful of mod­er­ate Repub­li­cans, said Fri­day’s vote should be seen as an op­por­tu­nity to start from scratch with com­mit­tee hear­ings, pub­lic de­bate and, yes, bi­par­ti­san­ship. The Se­nate GOP bill was crafted be­hind closed doors by Repub­li­can lead­ers, with lit­tle time for law­mak­ers to re­view it and al­most no pub­lic de­bate.

“It is now time to re­turn to reg­u­lar or­der with in­put from all of our mem­bers — Repub­li­cans and Democrats — and bring a bill to the floor of the Se­nate for amend­ment and de­bate,” McCain said in a state­ment Fri­day. “I en­cour­age my col­leagues on both sides of the aisle to trust each other, stop the po­lit­i­cal games­man­ship, and put the health care needs of the Amer­i­can peo­ple first. We can do this.”

Se­nate Democrats said they were ready to work with Repub­li­cans — if the GOP would drop the ef­fort to re­peal Oba­macare and work on shoring up the law. There are a num­ber of bi­par­ti­san talks un­der­way in the Se­nate, with the most im­me­di­ate fo­cus on try­ing to stabilize the in­di­vid­ual in­sur­ance mar­kets, which have been rat­tled by the GOP de­bate.

Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said Fri­day that he wanted to start with a pro­posal to guar­an­tee fed­eral sub­si­dies to in­sur­ance com­pa­nies, an Oba­macare pro­vi­sion that helps in­sur­ers of­fer low-in­come fam­i­lies plans with re­duced out-of-pocket costs, such as de­ductibles and co-pays.

An­other would in­volve “re-in­sur­ance,” in which the fed­eral gov­ern­ment would sub­si­dize in­sur­ers for costs above a cer­tain amount.

It’s un­clear how Repub­li­cans will re­ceive those ideas. McCon­nell said Thurs­day, dur­ing a Se­nate floor speech, that Schumer just wanted to “throw money at in­sur­ance com­pa­nies.”

“No re­forms, no changes, just a multi­bil­lion-dol­lar Band-Aid,” he said.

But other Repub­li­cans said they had to ne­go­ti­ate with Democrats, and sta­bi­liz­ing the mar­kets would be a good start­ing place.

“There’s a lot that went wrong. They should have never tried to force this on a par­ti­san ba­sis,” said Rep. Char­lie Dent, R-Pa.

CLIFF OWEN, AP

Repub­li­can Sens. Mitch McCon­nell and Cory Gard­ner walk to the Se­nate cham­ber Thurs­day.

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