In a late night session, the Senate voted in the early Thursday morning hours to take the first legislative step towards repealing Obamacare. Following a debate that lasted more than seven hours, the Republican-controlled chamber voted 51-48 to push through a budget resolution that should pave the way for a speedy repeal of the healthcare law.
As part of the so-called vote-a-rama, senators began putting 19 resolution amendments to a vote in the early evening on Wednesday before finally passing the measure at nearly 2:00 in the morning. The move brings us the first tangible progress we’ve seen towards the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, a mission Republican have been on since it was passed by Democrats in 2010.
As fast as the Senate’s progress has been, however, it’s impossible to ignore some of the pitfalls looming in the not-so-distant future. Republicans are only now backing away from their repeal-and-delay strategy, meaning they will have to come up with a full replacement – by the end of 2017, one would imagine. President-elect Donald Trump reiterated this week that he wants to see a simultaneous repeal-and-replace bill, or as close to simultaneous as Congress can get.
In comments to reporters on Tuesday, House Speaker Paul Ryan said that congressional Republicans and Trump were on the exact same page.
“It is our goal to bring it all together concurrently,” Ryan said. “We’re going to use every tool at our disposal through legislation, through regulation, to bring replace concurrent along with repeal, so that we can save people from this mess.”
In the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was straightforward about the need to repeal Obamacare as quickly as possible.
“When Obamacare’s supporters forced their partisan law on our country, they promised an easy-to-use system; one that would lower premiums and out-of-pocket health care costs; one that would foster choice and allow families to keep the plans and doctors they liked,” said McConnell. “But it didn’t take long for the American people to discover the truth about Obamacare. Too many have been personally hurt by this law. Too many feel they’re worse off than they were before Obamacare.”
That’s an understatement. The faster Republicans can get this wretched law off the books, the faster our economy can start growing again.