The U.S. Senate today voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act, voting 51-48 on a measure advancing a budget resolution to start the process of appealing Barack Obama’s signature legislation sixteen days before he leaves office.
The Republicans have set a date of February 20 to deliver an Obamacare repeal bill to Trump’s desk, a month into his administration. He’s likely to sign, if his campaign promises are any indication. Incoming VP Mike Pence spent part of his day on the Hill today, communing with Republicans and promising that President-elect Trump promises executive actions beginning on “Day One” to begin unraveling the health care law. Incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer specified that “Day One” means Inauguration Day, January 20th. President Obama was also on the Hill today, urging Democrats to “stay strong” in defense of the ACA. [Photo: Matt McClain/Washington Post]
Among Senators who took to the floor today both for and against this vote was Bernie Sanders – CSPAN has video.
Republicans don’t have enough votes to overcome a Democratic filibuster in the Senate, so their workaround is a budget resolution, which would not be subject to filibuster. That will give Republicans the ability to repeal any parts of the law that have budget or tax implications. They can gut the law, taking out all subsidies that assist low- and middle-income people buy coverage, removing all taxes that underwrite those subsides. More here, on the process the Republicans are using, and with my thanks to our friend Zachary Israel for walking me through some of the Republican maneuvers.
Singing a different tune now, congressional Republicans are saying they don’t want the 20 million people who were covered, many for the first time, by Obamacare to lose their coverage. They say the plan a phase-out of the ACA over an unspecified time while they figure out a replacement that they promise will make health insurance affordable and available to everyone but without the mandate that requires who can afford it to buy health insurance.
Many questions have been raised about potential problems in this “repeal and delay” plan, including from inside the Republican Party. Rand Paul, Kentucky’s libertarian senator, was the only Senate Republican to vote against the motion to proceed to the budget resolution today, warning Republicans not to repeal Obamacare without voting in a working replacement on the same day.