Littwin: Chances for Obamacare repeal may be up in the air, but Cory Gardner is all in (column)
Fair and Unbalanced
Whether or not this is the final act of Obamacare, it is playing out pretty much as expected in the dysfunctional Republican Senate, which is to say with no one having any idea what will happen in the end.
Mitch McConnell got his motion to move forward passed, 51-50, thanks to a dramatic reappearance by John McCain from his sickbed, a Mike Pence tiebreaker and the expected cave from a small group of craven centrists.
And yet, when the first true bill, the McConnell bill, the Trumpcare 3.0 bill, the Ted Cruz amendment bill, the Rob Portman compromise (or compromised) bill, came forward later in the evening, it got crushed. Nine Republicans from across the GOP spectrum voted against a bill, which, because the CBO hadn’t yet scored it, required 60 votes to pass. It got 43. In the words of a certain former president, it was a shellacking.
So, on the first day of voting on a process that should end by Friday, it looked for a time as if GOP was ready to make good on its seven-year promise to destroy Obamacare. And hours later, it looked as if the GOP was ready to make good on it more recent promise to do what it can to destroy itself. And now, the last hope seems to be the so-called “skinny repeal,” which does almost nothing at all except to dump the individual mandate and say the Senate could pass a bill, no matter how loopy, and get it to conference from which a much worse bill would almost certainly emerge.
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But amid all the uncertainty, there was certainty, too.
First, there was the certainly sad case of John McCain, war hero, senior statesman, maverick, man before party, who emerged from his recent diagnosis of brain cancer to take the Senate floor to tell truth to his Republican colleagues, to chide them for their partisanship, to embarrass them for their dysfunction, to lament how little they had learned from their criticisms of party-line vote on Obamacare, to remind them how they were moving in a way that reflected the worst in myopic lawmaking.
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