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By Aidan Mattis
The “World’s Greatest Healthcare Plan of 2017” just passed the House Ways and Means committee, but will it pass the Senate? Republicans have voted to fully repeal Obamacare six times since it passed in 2011, but the measure has been defeated each time. Now, a fully Republican government is poised to finally change the law. Will it work?
The bill has been criticized by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), and it is staunchly opposed by the House Freedom Caucus. The Freedom Caucus unanimously endorsed the plan compiled by Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), who is also in opposition to the GOP House leadership plan. The entire Democratic party, and now presumably even Senator Tom Cotton (R-AK), also oppose the bill.
What does this mean? Cotton told ABC This Week host George Stephanopoulos that the AHCA “cannot pass the Senate”, or he fears the GOP will lose its House Majority.
Cotton’s concerns are with the speed at which the plan is being rammed through Congress. He worries that their attention is not to the quality of the bill overall, but simply getting the bill to the floor so that it can be signed.
“To my friends in House: pause, start over. Get it right, don’t get it fast” he suggested in a tweet on Thursday morning. “What matters in long run is better, more affordable health care for Americans, NOT House leaders’ arbitrary legislative calendar.”
Not only has the bill only been available for a brief time, but the budget office has yet to assign it a “score”. This concerned Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA), who remarked that “It’s kind of crazy they’re voting without a score”.
Despite outright rejection by two senators, and obvious concerns from two others, Senate GOP Leadership remains confident that the bill will pass. However, Republicans can expect no support from Democrat defectors, and losing just two votes will leave the bill dead on the Senate floor. Should Sen. Paul rally just one more Republican to his banner of “full, clean repeal”, Speaker Paul Ryan’s healthcare plan will certainly fail. This doesn’t seem far fetched, as Sen. Cotton explained that “unfortunately, I just don’t think this bill, as written, is going create the new conditions necessary for the kind of competition that…I, and virtually every other Republican wants.”
With up to four Senators voting no, and Sen. Paul’s well known tendencies towards filibusters lasting for more than 13 hours, it seems unlikely that “Obamacare Lite” will become law anytime soon.