There won’t be a vote on the Graham-Cassidy bill. Susan Collins, Rand Paul and John McCain killed it – and when it was dead Ted Cruz more or less took a leak on the corpse.
“We don’t have the votes so it’s probably best we don’t do the vote,” said Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) after the GOP conference met at its regular weekly luncheon. “We’ve lost this battle, but we’re going to win the war.”
The last-ditch bill sponsored by Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) would dismantle ObamaCare’s insurance subsidy program and Medicaid expansion and convert their funding into block grants to states.
“We don’t have the votes,” Cassidy acknowledged after meeting with his colleagues on Tuesday for more than an hour.
“We made the decision since we don’t have the votes, we’re going to postpone it,” he added, expressing disappointment.
Graham said the health care debate will resume after Congress tries to move a tax reform package and expressed confidence his bill will eventually muster 50 votes.
“It’s not if, only a matter of when,” he said, adding that with more “attention” and “time,” the bill could eventually become law.
How you’re going to win the war when you can’t win any battles with your own majority is a decent question. Graham and Cassidy now say they’re going on the road to build support for the plan, which means they’ll be painting targets on their backs for the OFA and Indivisible trolls to shoot at.
In the meantime, here was Collins explaining why she’s supporting keeping Obamacare around…
Collins (Maine) urged colleagues to resume bipartisan negotiations in the Senate Health Committee between Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.).
“I think the best route is for us to resume the hearings in the HELP [Health, Education, Labor and Pensions] Committee that we were doing before we were diverted by Graham-Cassidy,” Collins told reporters.
She said “it would be helpful if the vice president outlined his support for resuming the hearings in the HELP Committee and the negotiations that were making such good progress,” she said ahead of a Republican lunch with Vice President Mike Pence.
They’re making zero progress in the HELP committee. Zero. She’s on that committee and she wants her grubby fingers on whatever bill might go to the Senate floor. It’s nothing more elegant than that.
A more functional Senate led by a more effective leader would yank Collins off that committee as punishment for opposing the bill, given the political stakes of not having Graham-Cassidy, or an Obamacare repeal bill of some stripe, to pass in the first year of supposed total Republican control. Ditto for McCain, who inexplicably still chairs the Armed Services Committee.
If there is a silver lining, it’s that the Senate can now move on to a tax reform bill which may or may not get to 50 votes and a passage under reconciliation this year, and then next year the Senate can use reconciliation for another shot at Obamacare. By next year McCain will likely be either dead and gone or have retired due to his brain cancer and it would be hard to imagine his appointed replacement wouldn’t be a more loyal Republican vote, so that would move an Obamacare repeal into the realm of the possible.
Maybe despite all the political promises, doing something about Obamacare was a project just a year too soon. Or maybe the GOP is simply too poorly led and too full of disparate and disloyal elements in the Senate to ever get anything done. Those of us hemorrhaging money on worthless, government-mandated health insurance plans will have to tough it out indefinitely in the knowledge that our votes just don’t matter.