In a potential death knell for efforts to repeal Obamacare — at least this year — the Senate parliamentarian has ruled that Republicans face a Sept. 30 deadline to kill or overhaul the law with only 50 votes, Democrats on the Senate Budget Committee said Friday.
Congress is facing fights in September over boosting the federal debt limit, government funding, defense programs and the FAA, among other issues. Adding another Obamacare repeal battle to that schedule could prove too much for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who has all but said he’s moving on from health care.
In search of a badly needed legislative victory, McConnell and other Senate Republicans have shifted their focus instead to tax reform.
Yet President Donald Trump — who has repeatedly predicted Obamacare is about to implode — has called for another repeal vote in the Senate, as have GOP conservative hard-liners in both the House and Senate. Trump and McConnell had a tense phone call after the Senate’s rejection on July 28 of a “skinny” repeal bill in which the president berated the Kentucky Republican over his failure to push through the repeal package.
Trump has openly speculated about McConnell’s political future if Congress can’t deliver on tax reform. McConnell, however, remains very popular among his Senate GOP colleagues.
The Senate HELP committee is set to hold hearings on how to stabilize Obamacare.
Trump also still faces a decision about whether to continue to spend billions of dollars on subsidies for low-income Americans who get coverage under the Affordable Care Act. And the White House is slashing tens of millions of dollars in advertising designed to sign up new Obamacare enrollees. Democratic leaders accuse Trump and top congressional Republicans of deliberately trying to undermine Obamacare to score political points, even at the risk of millions of Americans losing their health care.