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McConnell gives up on repeal and replace for GOP health care bill

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., said Monday he would not support the GOP healthcare bill.
U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., said Monday he would not support the GOP healthcare bill. AP

After Republican Sens. Mike Lee and Jerry Moran said Monday evening they would not vote to advance the GOP healthcare bill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said he would abandon the effort to repeal and immediately replace Obamacare.

McConnell said in a statement Monday night that the two senators defections made it “apparent that the effort to repeal and immediately replace the failure of Obamacare will not be successful.”

Instead, McConnell endorsed an approach supported by President Donald Trump to repeal the Affordable Care Act without immediately replacing it with different health care legislation.

“In the coming days, the Senate will vote to take up the House bill,” McConnell said, adding that a majority of the Senate supported such a measure in 2015 in the form of “a repeal of Obamacare with a two-year delay to provide for a stable transition period to a patient-centered health care system that gives Americans access to quality, affordable care.”

Former President Barack Obama vetoed that bill at the time.

Lee, of Utah, and Moran, of Kansas, tweeted Monday that they could not support the Senate’s bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. Without their support, the bill would not receive enough votes to pass a procedural hurdle and reach the floor for debate.

Moran said in a statement that the Better Care Reconciliation Act, or BCRA as the Republican bill was called, didn’t address what he said were the fundamental issues with Obamacare.

“We should not put our stamp of approval on bad policy,” Moran said. “We must now start fresh with an open legislative process to develop innovative solutions that provide greater personal choice, protections for pre-existing conditions, increased access and lower overall costs for Kansans.”

Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky had announced over the weekend that the bill would be indefinitely delayed following news that Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., would remain at home recovering from surgery to remove a blood clot. McConnell had expected to vote on it this week and needed McCain’s support.

Republicans needed at least 50 votes — Vice President Mike Pence would break a tie — to pass their repeal and replace effort. But senators were divided on the bill, with some saying it didn’t do enough to roll back Obama’s signature legislation, and others arguing it was too harsh and would kick their constituents off their current plans. Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Rand Paul of Kentucky had already announced their opposition to the bill.

After its initial effort failed to garner enough votes, the House passed its repeal and replace effort in May. The Senate has also struggled to follow through on Republicans’ main campaign promise, with McConnell delaying a vote on the Senate version originally scheduled to take place before the July 4 congressional recess. Changes were made to that bill in attempt to get everyone in the party on board, but McConnell’s decision Monday demonstrated the difficulty the leader faced in getting the entire Republican caucus to back the same bill.

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