Speed Reads

ObamaCare repeal and....?

Senate GOP may not have enough votes to repeal ObamaCare without a replacement plan

Senate Republicans need only 50 votes to begin the process of dismantling the Affordable Care Act this week, but at least three GOP senators are publicly pushing back against the effort to repeal ObamaCare without a plan to replace it, and five GOP senators introduced an amendment Monday night to give Congress until March 3 to write legislation to repeal parts of the law. Under a budget resolution bill on which the Senate plans to vote Thursday, congressional committees have until Jan. 27 to write up the repeal plan.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who says he will unveil his own replacement proposal this week, has been leading the push to repeal and replace ObamaCare at the same time. He says that President-elect Donald Trump called him Friday evening to support Paul's strategy. "He called after seeing an interview that I had done [talking about] that we should vote on ObamaCare replacement at the same time," Paul told Politico on Monday. "I'd hate to characterize his opinion on it other than he agreed with me that we should do it that at the same time," he added. "There is momentum growing for it." He said he would vote for a standalone repeal bill if that was the only option.

Under the plans from GOP leaders, Republicans would repeal as much of ObamaCare as they can right away with a filibuster-proof budget maneuver, then come up with a replacement within three years. Any replacement measure would require at least 60 votes in the Senate, meaning eight Democrats would have to sign on. Then Trump would have to sign on. "I want to see the game plan in terms of how you actually enact replacement," Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) told CNN Monday. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate health committee, said "it's much more prudent to figure out where you're going to go from here, and attempt to do it all at the same time," adding, "People will see some of the flaws in just repealing only."

Trump has a love-hate relationship with CNN, so Republicans who want to influence policy may want to take a page from Rand Paul's playbook and make their case on a program Trump actually watches. Peter Weber