Zombie apocalypse, Congressional style
Fans of the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, may be walking around today with smiles after the second Senate version of a “repeal and replace” bill came up short on votes. Don’t get used to it.
It’s hard to describe the sheer legislative ineptitude of this crusade to eliminate a law that Republicans love to hate. The House alone voted more than 50 times to repeal the law under President Obama, without ever authoring a serious alternative.
After seven years of gamesmanship, a GOP Congress and a Republican President who declared Obamacare a “disaster” finally had their chance to craft an alternative plan to a law that, while flawed, offered serious health access to millions who previously relied on emergency rooms for their care — if they were treated at all.
A funny thing happened on the road to repeal and replace: millions of Americans who said they too hated the law discovered they did not. Particularly when a House-passed bill that stripped Medicaid coverage and cut taxes registered abysmally poor in polls.
After a premature victory celebration in the White House Rose Garden even President Trump called the bill “mean.” But it looked positively benificent in comparison to the bill crafted behind closed doors by 13 male Republican senators.
That version, and a second that some characterized as even worse than the initial Senate offering, has been withdrawn because it managed to be rejected by both moderates and hardline conservatives.
Rejected. But not dead.
McConnell is expected to offer up a straight repeal measure that would allow Republicans as much as two years to craft a replacement that can manage 218 votes in the House and as few as 51 (or as many as 60) in the Senate.
Don’t bet on it taking two years as some previous GOP suggestions — for one simple reason: 2018 is a congressional election year and as of this moment Trump and the GOP congress don’t have much of a record upon which to run — presidential claims notwithstanding. And House Republicans are now exposed for having voted for a “mean” bill without the expected cover from a successful GOP alternative.
That’s why the only sure thing in Washington these days is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is working on ways to manipulate the arcane Senate rules to review some form of legislation to enable Republicans to stand before voters next November.