Republicans are leaving Washington Thursday for a month of recess with no clear direction on what they’ll do next on Obamacare.
Senate leaders want to just drop the issue altogether. Conservatives say they’re still fighting for repeal. Moderates want to launch a bipartisan effort to fix the shaky Obamacare system.
The reality is that, after seven years of unity on repealing Obamacare, Republicans are rudderless on how to talk about or address the defining domestic policy issue of nearly the past decade for their party, and they have no clear plans despite holding all the levers of power in Washington. Now, they face a month away from the Capitol, answering to their home-state voters about their lack of progress.
“I still think something gets through, just because there’s families that are not going to be able to afford their insurance, middle-income families,” said Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.). “It’s going to be a lot of effort.”
Robert Laszewski, an insurance industry consultant, thinks Republicans may find their footing. “Things get done in Washington, D.C., when they have to get done,” he said. “I don’t think this is over. They’re going to get yelled at when they got home for being incompetent, for embarrassing themselves.”
The August recess will mark the first time lawmakers have been home for an extended period since the repeal effort collapsed in the Senate. After seven years of campaigning against the law, this break marks the first time in nearly a decade that the GOP hasn’t aligned its talking points against the Affordable Care Act. Several Republican lawmakers, most House members, have planned town hall meetings, meaning they’re unlikely to be able to avoid the subject.
“Our focus should be on honoring our promise to repeal Obamacare and to lower premiums,” said Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). “Under Obamacare the profits of the 10 largest insurance companies have doubled. The insurance companies are making out like bandits, yet Senate Democrats want to give them billions more in taxpayer money. We should be working for the American people, not for the giant health care companies.”