Though the Republican Health Care Bill, as formulated by the Senate leadership, lacks the vote to pass, a new and possibly more productive strategy is underway.
Instead of withdrawing the bill, with the help of John McCain and Mike Pence, it has been put before the Senate for debate and amendment. This may result in the formulation of some kind of new health care plan or revision of Obamacare that legislators can live with.
The difference is between a top-down proposal that no legislator has read (which was the way Obamacare was pushed through), vs. the give-and-take of the legislative process, which emulates a free political marketplace.
One possibility: A so-called “skinny repeal” of Obamacare. This would eliminate unpopular mandates and taxes while keeping other features of the existing Affordable Health Care Act.
From Jakob Pramuk, Senate moves ahead with Obamacare repeal as Pence is forced to break tie, CNBC:
The Senate on Tuesday voted by the narrowest margin to move forward with its Obamacare repeal push, a significant step for Republicans that still leaves senators searching for an agreement on how best to follow through on a campaign promise that has defined most of the last decade.Vice President Mike Pence was forced to break a tie as the Senate voted 51-50 to start debate on proposals to change the landmark health-care law. The vote comes after weeks of setbacks for Republicans as party divisions stalled multiple versions of their plans to overhaul the American health-care system.
Passing the motion to proceed does not mean Republicans have a consensus on a bill they can pass. The procedural vote starts a complicated period in which senators will float varying alternatives for reshaping Obamacare. . . .The Senate will navigate a complicated path to reach any agreement. One possible route could end with a so-called skinny repeal, according to NBC News, which cited two Senate sources.
The “skinny” repeal would eliminate the individual mandate penalty, the employer mandate penalty and the medical device tax, according to NBC.
But before that could happen, the Senate would “move on to debate and vote on a variety of approaches to the bill,” like the repeal now and replace later plan that key conservatives support, NBC reported. That would likely get blocked.
The chamber could then field some version of the replacement plan that stalled out recently, which may also fail, as it could require 60 votes. The vote for a partial, “skinny” repeal may follow that.
Illustration: Henry Clay in “the golden age of the Senate,” Drawn by Peter F. Rothermel / engraved by Robert Whitechurch (1814-ca. 1880) – Published: Philadelphia, Pa. : John M. Butler and Alfred Long, c1855.This file was derived fromThe United States Senate, A.D. 1850, by Peter F. Rothermel.jpg:, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9049281