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A key piece of Republican legislation aimed at reforming Obamacare was shot down Tuesday, after the Senate failed to muster the 60 votes needed to move forward.
The Republican effort to repeal and replace Obamacare collapsed Monday night when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) pulled the trigger on a budget amendment aimed at killing the bill, which would have gutted the law by cutting off funding to the Department of Health and Human Services, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department’s Medicaid agency.
The GOP had hoped to use the procedural maneuver to defeat the amendment and pass a separate, more conservative health care bill.
Democrats immediately pounced on McConnell’s action, with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) warning that the “bipartisan effort to dismantle Obamacare and replace it with a government-run, Medicare-for-all single-payer system will be a disaster for Americans and our economy.”
McConnell said the Senate was “rebuilding” its bipartisan health care plan after failing to pass a Senate-passed bill earlier this month, but it was unclear how many senators would support the bill.
McConnell and fellow Senate Republicans, who have vowed to kill the bill unless Democrats provide them a clean, bipartisan bill, had been working for months to craft a bill that could pass the Senate, but they never got there.
McDonald said the bill that died Monday night would be replaced with a “scrambled version” of the legislation, but he added that it would not have the same impact as the one the Senate passed.
McDonnell had hoped that his own amendment would kill the measure, but that did not happen.
The Senate voted 48-42 to kill McConnell’s amendment, which he used as leverage to get the votes for a clean bill.
Sen. Rand Paul (R) of Kentucky, who has criticized McConnell for the lack of progress on the health care legislation, said he was disappointed that the Senate did not move forward on the plan.
“This is the first time I have seen the Senate not pass a bill.
This is just a failure,” Paul told reporters.”
I thought that this was a bipartisan effort to get this done.
Now I know it was just a one-off and this is a failure.
It’s a failure for us and for our country.”
Sen. Susan Collins (R), who voted against McConnell’s budget amendment, said in a statement that the GOP health care effort has failed and “was rushed to a vote without real debate or votes on a bill to stabilize our healthcare system.”
She added, “Instead of moving forward, the Senate is rushing forward with a plan that will make it harder for Americans to access healthcare and that will fail the American people.”
McDonald, the top Republican on the Budget Committee, said Tuesday that he believes he can get the Senate to vote on a health care package.
He said the House bill will be more palatable to Republicans because it contains fewer provisions that could cause a problem for insurers, and it will include a number of provisions that would provide a degree of insurance to millions of Americans.
Republicans in the Senate have long promised to repeal the law but have yet to provide a coherent plan for replacing it, which could be one of the reasons McConnell pulled the plan off the floor.
They have repeatedly called on the House to take up the matter, and a Republican leader in the House told CNN that the House would likely vote on repealing the law this week.
But Democrats have been eager to work with Republicans to get a bill through the Senate and the process has been bogged down by procedural wrangling.
On Tuesday, Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D) of Illinois said he expects to introduce legislation in the coming days that would repeal the Affordable Care Act.
“We’re going to have a lot of work to do,” he told reporters after McConnell’s motion to kill his amendment failed.
“I think it will take a few weeks for this process to catch up.
I think it’s going to take a little bit more time.”
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D)-Nevada said Democrats will work with Democrats in the Republican-controlled House to “move forward on a bipartisan health insurance bill.”
He said that he expects the House GOP to begin working on the legislation this week, but there’s still a long way to go.
“It’s very possible that we will see a vote on this in the near future,” Reid said.
“We’ve heard that Republicans are ready to do it.
I have to be realistic about it.”
But Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R)-Alaska said she wants the Senate’s bill to go forward before the end of the year.
“It’s going up in smoke,” she told reporters on Tuesday.
“The idea that they are going to do this this week when it’s just a matter of weeks before we are out of the woods, it’s an incredible disappointment.”
McClatchy’s Julie Tate contributed to this