Speed Reads

ObamaCare lives?

Senate Republicans may try to repeal ObamaCare yet again

Senate Republicans dramatically failed to pass a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act in July, falling one vote short of keeping the process alive, but technically they have until Sept. 30 before they lose the ability to pass a bill with just 50 votes plus Vice President Mike Pence. They might go for it. Last week, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) introduced a bill that would effectively replace much of ObamaCare with state block grants and phase out Medicaid expansion, transferring money from expansion states to those that didn't take ObamaCare's Medicaid expansion. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he will bring it to a floor vote next week if it has the support of 50 senators, Politico reports.

That isn't a sure thing. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who voted yes last time, has been heavily critical of Graham-Cassidy, deriding it as ObamaCare Lite, and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) is reportedly leaning no again. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who voted no last time, is a wild card, says Caitlin Owens at Axios. "For everything he's said about 'regular order,' he's still friends with Lindsey Graham." If Paul and Collins are no votes, that means one more no vote would sink it again. If the Senate passed the bill, which keeps a lot of ObamaCare's taxes, the House would have to pass it unchanged.

Ironically, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) may have given Republicans one more shot at taking down ObamaCare, something of an obsession for President Trump. "The Senate is in session only three days this week, so any ObamaCare repeal vote would occur the last week of September, giving the CBO another week or so to evaluate the proposal," Politico notes. "A bipartisan fiscal funding deal passed earlier than usual this month, leaving the Senate GOP with an opening at the end of a month usually filled with brinkmanship." That deal was worked out by Schumer, Trump, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) Even if Graham-Cassidy dies, the law of unintended consequences is obviously still in force.