Senate GOP leaders on Tuesday announced that they are delaying a vote on legislation to overhaul Obamacare until after the July 4 congressional recess. The move suggests that the GOP leadership is reluctantly being forced to re-work the controversial legislation in order to muster the support needed for passage.
Pundits and politicians throughout the Beltway have repeatedly expressed confidence in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s ability to get the legislation passed in the face of push-back from a handful of his GOP colleagues– but McConnell seems less sure of himself.
President Donald Trump on Monday suggested that the GOP should forge ahead with a vote, suggesting that legislative failure would simply mean the GOP should wait until healthcare markets collapse under the weight of Obamacare before revisiting the issue.
According to a POLITICO report Tuesday, the top Republican in the Senate is urging the president to re-think that strategy. Forcing the vote ahead of the July 4 holiday is almost certain to bring defeat for the overhaul legislation. But allowing the healthcare system to fall apart following its defeat would likely mean emergency negotiations between Republicans and Democrats with vastly different objectives for the overhaul outcome.
Unfortunately for McConnell, vastly different objectives are a problem within his own party. And the two primary reasons for GOP opposition to the current overhaul effort illustrate a hefty divide between moderates and conservatives in the party.
Sens. Rand Paul (Ky.), Ted Cruz (Texas), Ron Johnson (Wis.) and Mike Lee (Utah) opposed the bill early on, complaining that the overhaul isn’t the two-part repeal and replace process long promised to GOP voters.
“There are provisions in this draft that represent an improvement to our current health care system but it does not appear this draft as written will accomplish the most important promise that we made to Americans: to repeal Obamacare and lower their health care costs,” reads the statement.
Paul, one of the harshest critics of how the GOP establishment is handling the Obamacare replacement, has also expressed concern that the current Senate measure leaves in key provisions from President Obama’s healthcare law and even adds new entitlements for recipients.
On Tuesday, the Kentucky senator said a meeting with President Trump left him confident that the GOP can improve the bill for conservatives.
“Just came from WH. @realDonaldTrump is open to making bill better,” Paul tweeted. “Is Senate leadership?”
But among more moderate Republicans, the biggest issue with the overhaul effort isn’t an issue of conservatism at all– it’s a Congressional Budget Office report revealing that the current bill will bring steep cuts, to the tune of $772 billion, to Medicaid over the next decade.
As of this writing, six Republicans fall into that camp: Susan Collins (Maine), Dean Heller (Nev.), Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Rob Portman (Ohio), and Bill Cassidy (La.).
For Democrats, the dueling concerns within the GOP are nothing but good news.