Amid chants of “shame, shame, shame,” the Senate voted yea on taking the next step in squashing healthcare for millions.
To be clear, this was a procedural vote to move on to debating—for up to 20 hours—the House-passed AHCA and various amendments proposed by Republicans. It does not mean a vote directly on the bill itself.
All 48 Democrats voted no, while all but two Republican senators voted in favor. The two Republican holdouts were Senator Lisa Murkowski (AK) and Senator Susan Collins (ME), both of whom have long been opposed to the shadowy nature of their party’s actions. Collins was even challenged to a duel by a representative from Texas for her position by misogynist pajama model Blake Farenthold.
Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) called the forthcoming debate a “wild west” situation because nobody knows what the contents of the debated amendments will be. The original plan was to pass the House bill then approve it in the Senate with amendments (BCRA) and then to President Trump to sign. But since the Senate plan was almost universally reviled, it’s uncertain. Anything related to the AHCA is up for grabs in the 20-hour debate and the final-final vote.
One possibility is a simple repeal of the Affordable Care Act, and taking some time to conjure up a replacement. But a straight repeal would be insanity and even John Boehner agrees, saying Americans have “gotten accustomed to it.”
It’s also unlikely because Republicans cannot pass a repeal and (possibly) replace bill with a simple majority. They need 60 Senate votes and 218 House votes. Given how today’s vote went down, it seems unlikely Democrats will ease up.
That said, “repeal and replace” has been the GOP mantra for seven years and at this point, simply repealing may feel enough like a win for them.
They don’t need the bill, after all. Senator John McCain’s heroic entrance while fighting a brain tumor being treated by government health care proves that.