Senate Republicans’ “skinny repeal” legislation, the Health Care Freedom Bill, failed in the Senate during the early morning hours of July 28 (TAXDAY, 2017/07/28, C.1). The unsuccessful amendment represents what many Senate Republicans concede is their last effort, for now, under the House-approved American Health Care Act (HR 1628) to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) (P.L. 111-148).
Three Senate Republicans and all Democrats voted against the limited, partial “skinny repeal” of certain ACA provisions. Senate leadership intended the measure to go to conference where the House and Senate would craft final legislation, but could not garner at least 51 votes on any proposal introduced.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said on July 28 that he voted against the amendment because it would not actually reform the health care system. “While the amendment would have repealed some of Obamacare’s most burdensome regulations, it offered no replacement to actually reform our health care system and deliver affordable, quality health care to our citizens,” he said in a statement. According to McCain, lawmakers should return the bill back to committee, hold hearings and hear from both sides of the aisle on reforming health care.
Meanwhile, several lawmakers are voicing their intent to continue the focus on health care reform. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. met with President Trump at the White House on July 28 to discuss Graham’s ideas for repealing the ACA. Additionally, House Freedom Caucus Chair Mark Meadows, R-N.C., told reporters on July 28, “I just think that we’ve got to regroup and continue to stay involved and find something that has 51 votes in the Senate that we can make work.”
Senate Democrats remained relatively quiet on July 28 in terms of highlighting the defeat of Republicans’ ACA repeal effort. “Now it’s time for the Senate to come together in a bipartisan way to fix the problems that exist in our health care system. We should sit down and trade ideas with our Republican colleagues,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y. said in a July 28 tweet.
Likewise, Senate Finance Committee Ron Wyden, D-Ore., advocated for bipartisan solutions. “It is now time to work on a bipartisan basis to improve health care for every American.”
House lawmakers departed Washington on July 28 for their scheduled August recess. The Senate is expected to delay its recess until the third week of August.
By Jessica Jeane, Wolters Kluwer News Staff