The Senate Rebellion: Why Mitch McConnell Couldn’t Pass the Healthcare Bill with a Senate Majority
By: Kayla Pasacreta
Most of the Republican Party has made it their mission to undercut President Obama’s landmark achievement in office – his healthcare bill. With President Trump vowing to repeal Obamacare as soon as he got in office, and a Republican-dominated House and Senate, the path seemed to be all too clear. That is, until, the GOP experienced utter chaos with trying to come up with a replacement to Obamacare.
Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority Leader, has a lot of explaining to do. Senate Republicans started their push for an Obamacare replacement with a very rocky start. Drafted by 13 senators in secret, the media, and public citizens, critiqued the party for crafting the bill in such secret. The bill was drafted in so much privacy that even many prominent Republicans in the Senate didn’t know what was going on – Senator John McCain blasted his own party about the absurd secrecy of the bill. McCain, when asked if he had seen the bill, stated, “No, nor have I met any American that has.” The bill also went directly against Trump’s campaign trail promise to repeal Obamacare
without messing with Medicaid coverage – the bill made some pretty deep cuts to Medicaid, directly hurting many of Trump’s base.
To make matters worse, when the bill was finally unveiled, many shared a common sentiment that the provisions in the bill made it clear why the Senate hid it for so long. The Congressional Budget Office scoring of the bill estimated it would cost over 22 million Americans to lose access to healthcare. It’s not too surprising 4 GOP senators stated their opposition to the healthcare bill, causing the Republican replacement to quickly crumble. These four votes of opposition served as a major moment of deviance for the Senators. The Republican Party has the luxury of a Senate majority – and still could not seamlessly pass their proposal for an Obamacare replacement. This signals a major dissent within the party – there is no reason Majority Leader McConnell shouldn’t have been able to pass the bill with such a majority. The defeat is plainly embarrassing to McConnell.
McConnell has now done what any leader with an agenda should do: draw back to the drawing board. However, his plan to try to repeal Obamacare with no suitable replacement, then replace, is once again, not likely to work, despite the White House’s support. The bill can only afford to lose two votes, and just hours after the proposal, already has the opposition of two Republican Senators. West Virginia Senator Shelley Capito insisted she could not support the plan to repeal then replace, saying, “I cannot vote to repeal Obamacare without a replacement plan that addresses my concerns and the needs of West Virginians.”
The Republican Party has a Republican led White House, Senate, and House. The party has surely tried to capitalize from this majority, but they still not have not had much of their success. The party will soon be going into August with no major legislative reform or achievements. Republicans have all of the necessary tools to have success – except solidarity within their own party.