Speed Reads

skinny won't cut it

Lindsey Graham, John McCain, and Ron Johnson hint they won't vote for 'skinny repeal'

Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), John McCain (Ariz.), and Ron Johnson (Wis.) held a news conference Thursday evening about their party's health-care efforts, expressing their concern that the House will pass the Senate's "skinny repeal" of ObamaCare this week without bringing the bill to conference.

Senate leadership has been toying with a "skinny repeal" plan that would focus on eliminating ObamaCare's individual mandate, employer mandate, and medical device tax, while largely leaving the rest of the health-care law in place. Votes on a straight repeal of ObamaCare with a two-year window to replace, as well as a repeal-and-replace bill favored by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), failed earlier this week, prompting senators to take up the "skinny repeal" plan.

Graham called the bill a "fraud" and "terrible policy," stating that unless House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) can assure him that the "skinny" bill "will not become the final product," he will vote against it. McConnell has indicated the bill would simply serve as a way for the Senate to pass a lowest-common-denominator piece of legislation that would pave the way for conference with the House, and has reportedly been in communication with Ryan about that strategy. Still, Graham said he would like a more solid guarantee. "It's like pornography, you know it when you see it," Graham said of what would be a sufficient pledge.

McCain called for a bipartisan approach to create a better health-care bill. "Right now I am voting no," McCain confirmed, and he joined Graham's call for the bill to go to conference with the House. Johnson said that "virtually nothing we're doing in any of these bills" would properly address the underlying problems of the health-care system.

Given the existing opposition to the bill by Republican Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), if any one of the three senators were to vote no on the "skinny repeal" bill, it would not pass.