Senate GOP Tries to Kill Two Birds With One Bill

Obamacare_largerThe U.S. Senate voted yesterday to repeal most of Obamacare (including the individual and employer mandates) and defund Planned Parenthood for a year. Their efforts are only symbolic if President Barack Obama vetoes the bill, which he’s almost certain to do.

The House passed a weaker version of the bill in October. The stronger bill will go to the House for a vote.

According to the Washington Times, Republicans see the measure’s passage as “a test run for the real thing in 2017, when it hopes to scrap the health law with a Republican president and a slim majority in the Senate.”

“Are we doing this for partisan reasons?” Sen. John Cornyn said. “I would say no, absolutely not. What we are doing is listening to our constituents, who’ve told us that they’ve had one bad experience after another with Obamacare.”

Republicans managed to pass the bill through reconciliation, bypassing Democrats’ filibusters. If the bill reaches the president’s desk, he will veto it knowing that his so-called health care reform law might be partly responsible for the party’s defeat in the midterm elections.

The Planned Parenthood defunding portion almost didn’t make it into the final measure. From The Hill:

GOP leaders briefly floated the possibility of dropping the Planned Parenthood language but dropped the idea knowing it could spark a conservative backlash.

Instead, McConnell leaned on Cruz, Rubio and Lee to vote yes and sweetened the prospect by crafting an amendment that dramatically beefed up the Senate package. All three voted yes.

It repeals the expansion of Medicaid adopted by 30 states as well as many of the law’s tax increases, which the House bill left in place.

The Daily Signal reported that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tried to impede the Obamacare repeal vote last summer. Some conservatives credit Sen. Mike Lee for pushing the GOP leadership on a strong repeal package and Kentucky Governor-elect Matt Bevin for winning on a platform to block Medicaid expansion.

“The fact that we have one out of four people in this state on Medicaid is unsustainable, it’s unaffordable, and we need to create jobs in this state, not more government programs to cover people,” Bevin said while campaigning in February.

Bevin’s triumph at the ballot box, Capitol Hill insiders say, was an eye-opening moment for McConnell.

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