When word came out that the Senate planned to ignore the House’s garbage Obamacare replacement bill and write its own, it gave us the slightest glimmer of hope we might get something that actually resembled the repeal we’ve been promised for eight years.
Alas, Republicans being Republicans, that was too much to hope for.
Talking Points Memo reports that House Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has invoked a procedural trick to rush the existing version of the American Health Care Act to a vote, skipping the committee process:
McConnell began the process under what is known as Rule 14, according to the Senate minority whip’s office, to allow a repeal bill to be put directly on the Senate calendar so that it is available for a floor vote when Republicans are ready to vote on it. The move comes as GOP senators continue their closed-door meetings to hash out a deal that would secure the 50 votes they’ll need to pass legislation dismantling the Affordable Care Act, which they they are pushing through a process known as reconciliation that avoids a Democratic filibuster.
Senators were told that if they did not act, they would have to explain to their constituents why they aren’t addressing the problems in the individual market, as insurers raise premiums and exit markets. The hope is to vote on a bill before the Senate leaves for the July 4 recess. As it is, the House-passed healthcare bill required conservatives to make major concessions, abandoning the idea of a full repeal and a true market-based plan. By moving the bill even further left, McConnell would be testing the will of conservatives. “We’ve had plenty of time to discuss this issue,” McConnell told reporters after leaving the meeting with senators. “We are getting close to having a proposal to whip and to take to the floor. We’ve had seven years to talk about healthcare.”
Translation: leadership either wants to force the AHCA through so they can declare victory regardless of what it actually does, or they want to let it crash and burn so they can give up on this campaign promise and move on to disappointing us on other issues. The latter is more likely, considering it’s too liberal for Ted Cruz or Rand Paul to support, and the jury is still out on whether it’ll still somehow be too conservative for the likes of Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski.
Nobody in a position to direct this debacle — not McConnell, not Paul Ryan, not even Trump — seems to care enough about getting the policy right; apparently all that matters is checking a campaign promise (in name only) off the list and taking credit.
Who cares about relief for suffering families, fiscal solvency, free market principles, constitutional boundaries, or even Republicans’ own political futures?
The hard, unbelievable truth is after all this time, all these promises, and that mind-blowing victory in 2016…it might all be for nothing as far as healthcare is concerned. Obamacare might be here to stay, and a free market in medicine might be gone for good.
At least, that will remain case until the conservative movement wakes up and decides to hold our leaders accountable — all our leaders. The NeverTrumpers need to understand Trump isn’t the root of all evil and work to replace McConnell and Ryan, and the Trump fans need to realize he isn’t infallible and send him a loud and clear message that his legacy will depend on whether he truly embraces conservatism — as will our future.