US Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday cancelled this week’s expected vote on his party’s latest proposal to repeal and replace the healthcare law known as Obamacare, due to the lack of support in his own party. McConnell had to abandon the latest of his party’s attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act signed into law by former President Barack Obama in 2012, since the decision to vote “no” on the bill by three Senate Republicans — John McCain, Rand Paul and Susan Collins — made it impossible to obtain a simple majority.
The Donald Trump administration has incessantly pressured Congress to end Obamacare, but came up against seemingly irreconcilable divisions among the Republicans themselves, Efe reported. “Where we go from here is tax reform,” McConnell said after a meeting with Republican senators, acknowledging that they didn’t have enough votes to pass the repeal and replace Obamacare legislation promoted by Sen. Bill Cassidy and Senator Lindsay Graham.
After learning the leadership’s decision, Graham said that Senate Republicans will keep working to replace Obamacare, but first will go ahead with Trump’s tax reform legislation, another of the president’s priorities. The Republican Senate leadership wanted to vote on the healthcare bill by September 30, the deadline for taking advantage of a legislative exception that allows approval by a simple majority.
Starting in October, Republicans will need at least 60 votes in favour to move forward with the procedure to repeal Obamacare, far more than the current conservative majority in the upper house. “Sweeping reforms to our health care system and to Medicaid can’t be done well in a compressed time frame, especially when the actual bill is a moving target,” Collins said on Monday in a statement when she joined McCain and Paul as a “no” vote.
Collins of Maine, one of the most moderate of conservatives, criticised the fact that latest bill introduced by her party, like the previous ones, included big cuts to public healthcare programmes. In an attempt to keep the bill alive, Graham and Cassidy made last-minute changes over the weekend, including the provision of more funds for states with senators less in favour of the legislation. The unsuccessful bill would have eliminated key parts of Obamacare, including fines for those who do not obtain health insurance, the expansion of Medicaid for low-income citizens, and block-grants for the states.