By Chris Queen
The erosion of support began with three female senators: Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), who have all said they would not consider repealing Obamacare without a replacement ready to go. (To paraphrase an Atlanta radio host I heard yesterday, it’s funny how the GOP opposition to conservative ideas always seems to start with Murkowski and Collins.)
“I said in January we should not repeal without a replacement and just an indefinite hold on this just creates more chaos and confusion,” Murkowski told reporters.
“I do not support the new plan,” Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, told reporters. “A better approach would be … to begin hearings focused on the problems in the ACA, and let’s try to get bipartisan support to fix those egregious flaws.”
Other moderate senators have been shaky about a repeal plan because of the cuts to Medicaid that would go along with it. At the same time, conservatives have called for a repeal of Obamacare for a long time, and most of them have been willing to allow time for a replacement to be developed.
McConnell called for a clean repeal bill with a timeline to devise a replacement after his initial bill replacing Obamacare with a watered-down version failed to gain traction earlier in the week.
President Trump has placed the blame for Congress’ failure to come up with a suitable plan on Democrats “and a few Republicans,” while Vice President Pence declared that “inaction is not an option.”
McConnell, for his part, remains resolved. As he said from the Senate floor:
We will now try a different way to bring the people relief from Obamacare. I think we owe them at least that much. In the coming days, the Senate will take up a vote on a repeal of Obamacare combined with a stable two-year transition period as we work toward patient-centered healthcare.
For years we’ve heard the GOP promise to repeal and replace Obamacare. Time and time again, Republicans have kicked the can a little further down the path. When they won the House, they needed the Senate. When they won the Senate, they needed the White House. Now they have all three. How much longer will it take for them to keep their repeated promise?