Senate Republicans are stuck with the unpopular House health care bill, and they don't have the votes to pass it in their chamber as a result.
Republicans in the Senate have been saddled with the unpopular, toxic health care bill passed by their House counterparts, and it is causing major problems in their efforts to build a health care bill of their own.
The Hill reports that Senate Republican aides say that legislation is not yet drafted, and that Republican leaders are keeping the details of their plans quiet to avoid it being picked apart in public like the House bill was.
“The last thing we want to do is litigate this in the press,” an aide told the publication. Many of the provisions in the House bill, most notably its repeal of the Obamacare rules mandating coverage for those with pre-existing conditions, have been slammed by the public.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has conceded that he does not currently see a path to the 50 votes Republicans will need to pass the legislation, despite GOP control of the presidency and Congress.
Republicans, as they did in the House, also face unified Democrats opposed to the radical changes the bill would impose as a law. That means Republicans have to find supporters within their own ranks. The divide for Republicans has often broken down between conservatives who support more draconian legislation, and slightly less conservative Republicans who must face voters in swing states.
Per The Hill, while the House bill calls for a $900 billion cut to Medicaid, Republicans are divided between states who took the Medicaid expansion put in place by Obamacare (blue and swing states) and those who rejected it.
McConnell ally Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) told a TV station it is “unlikely” that Senate Republicans will get a bill through the process this year.
“Republicans for years have promised to repeal ObamaCare,” The Hill notes, “so failure would be a major blow.”
Republicans did not have a replacement bill ready when they took over the government, despite years of passing repeals they were aware would not pass under former President Barack Obama.
The apparent Republican retreat comes as another national poll shows voters rejecting the House bill. In a poll conducted by Kaiser Health, Americans across the board — moderates, Republicans, and Democrats — oppose the provision in the bill calling for Medicaid to be converted into block grants. The poll also finds overall high support for Medicaid, which is the target of many of the cuts and restrictions in the Republican bill.
Despite Trump’s Rose Garden ceremony celebrating the bill’s passage in the House, Senate Republicans increasingly seem like they would have preferred to have it die before having to deal with it. Now, they are caught trying to minimize the damage.