After meeting with Vice President-elect Mike Pence on Tuesday to hash out plans to repeal Obamacare, top Senate Republicans are no closer to resolving an issue that’s splintering the GOP heading into the start of Donald Trump’s presidency: how long to give themselves to replace the law.
Pence communicated that the incoming administration is prepared to work closely with Congress on the issue, senators said, but did not dictate how long the transition period should last. That decision will affect millions of Americans’ health care and send insurance companies scrambling to adjust.
“The view on that probably is in a constant state of evolution, based on who you talk to,” said Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the No. 3 GOP leader. “The question is: What’s that duration? Structurally, it’s at this point an open question. We’re hoping to get some direction.”
The only firm plans are for the Senate to kick off the repeal effort as soon as Jan. 3 by passing a budget resolution — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is calling it the “Obamacare repeal resolution” — that sets the table to repeal the Affordable Care Act on a simple majority vote. Then, shortly after Trump is sworn in, Republicans aim to have a repeal bill on his desk to sign.
It’s what comes after that moment of catharsis that Republicans are struggling with.