With Late Night Vote-a-Rama, GOP Takes Aim at Key Healthcare Gains
Early Thursday, Senate Republicans took the first step toward repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, overcoming a slew of Democratic amendments meant to defend popular parts of the law and setting the stage for tens of millions of Americans to lose their health insurance.
The 51-48 vote, taken around 1:00am, advances a budget resolution that instructs committees to write legislation stripping the healthcare law of its funding and spending provisions. It allows Congress to consider repeal legislation through the budget reconciliation process, requiring only a simple majority of 51 votes rather than the 60-vote supermajority required for most major bills and blocking the possibility of a Democratic filibuster.
Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky was the only Republican to join all Democrats in voting no.
Indeed, the New York Times reports:
The Huffington Post notes: “Budget resolutions don’t need presidential signatures, since they are basically internal congressional messages to committees. But they still require approval from both chambers, which means this one still needs a yes vote from the House”—a likely, but not certain, next step that could happen as soon as Friday.
Democrats presented multiple amendments during the late-night “vote-a-rama,” seeking to ensure continued access to coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, prevent any changes to Medicare or Medicaid, and allow young adults to stay on their parents’ health insurance plans until they turn 26. Despite their popularity with the American people, Senate Republicans voted down each of those measures—a disconnect that wasn’t lost on observers inside and outside the chamber.
As Ed Kilgore wrote for New York magazine:
The budget resolution instructs House and Senate committees to come up with repeal legislation by January 27, though there is no Obamacare replacement at the ready and despite President-elect Donald Trump saying during his Wednesday press conference that repeal and replacement should happen “essentially simultaneously.”
In fact, Politico calls that goal “technically almost impossible.”
The news outlet explained:
Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) called the Republicans’ action “shocking, reckless, and immoral”: