Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Trumpcare Makes It To The Senate Floor -- Barely

(Photo of the Senate vote to bring Trumpcare up for debate is from C-SPAN.)

Majority Leader McConnell asked for a vote to bring Trumpcare to the Senate floor for a debate yesterday afternoon, and the vote to do that was incredibly close. Fifty Republicans voted yes. Two Republicans (Murkowski of Alaska and Collins of Maine), two Independents (King of Maine and Sanders of Vermont), and all 46 Democrats voted no. That tied the vote at 50 for yes and 50 for no. Vice-president Pence broke the tie with a yes vote.

So, the House version of Trumpcare is now set for 20 hours of debate and a vote. The Senate is not going to pass that bill, and immediately McConnell introduced an amendment to replace it with the 2015 repeal version passed by the House and Senate (and vetoed by Obama).

McConnell asked that the amendment be considered as read (which is normal procedure) so the debate could begin. But Democrats objected and the amendment had to be read in its entirety. After that, the Republicans again tried to start the debate, but Democrats then objected that a quorum wasn't present -- and the debate was delayed again. After a couple of hours, McConnell tried another amendment -- this time to replace the House bill with the Senate version of Trumpcare. Democrats again objected to considering the amendment as read, and the whole thing (178 pages) had to be read aloud.

It seems obvious that Democrats are going to make this debate and vote a very long and tedious process -- and under the Senate rules, they have that right. And after this long and tedious process is completed, it is still unlikely that Trumpcare will be passed (and if it is, it's then unlikely the House will like the Senate version).

Trump celebrated the 51-50 vote, but the odds are still against a version of Trumpcare ever reaching his desk.

UPDATE -- About 9pm the Democrats relented and allowed a vote on whether to proceed with the amendment (which would be the latest version of Trumpcare with the Cruz plank that would allow worthless insurance policies to be sold to gullible people. Republicans lost the vote 43 to 57.

That's not the end of this Senate fight though. The GOP will probably come up with other versions in the coming days, and there will be many votes. One dangerous idea that's gaining strength is a "skinny repeal" -- just doing away with the individual and employer mandates (which would cause insurance premiums to skyrocket).

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