By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Friday, July 28, 2017, US Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) today released a statement following the failure of the Senate to pass a repeal of the controversial Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (Obamacare). Sen. Shelby said that the healthcare repeal measure would have given Americans relief from Obamacare and that he is disappointed that it failed. Senator Luther Strange also expressed disappointment that the key GOP promise was not kept.
Sen. Shelby said in a statement, “I am disappointed that the Senate could not agree on a bill intended to help millions of Americans escape Obamacare’s burdens. Obamacare has led to skyrocketing costs and collapsing insurance markets. The status quo is unsustainable. Republicans made a promise to the American people to repeal and replace this failing law, and while many of us have worked to keep that promise, our efforts were unsuccessful.
Sen. Shelby added, “We have missed a vital opportunity to provide relief from a flawed law on the verge of collapse. The American people deserve better. They deserve health care reform that actually works.”
Senator Luther Strange said, “After leading the fight against Obamacare as Attorney General, I came to Washington expecting my colleagues to deliver on the promise they had made to the American people. In Alabama, your word is your bond, and tonight I kept my promise. Words cannot express my disappointment that a few Senators failed to keep theirs. For me, the fight goes on.”
The US House of Representative passed a comprehensive repeal and replace plan. Instead of simply voting to pass the House plan, the Senate leadership rejected that bill and elected to write their own plan. Democrats in the Senate refused to cooperate with any Republican healthcare bill. The bill that came to be known as the McConnell plan, after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) was opposed by both some Republican moderates and by some Republican conservatives. That plan never came to a vote as it was obvious that it did not have the votes to succeed. The conservatives wanted a straight repeal of Obamacare without worrying about replacing any of it at this time. Seven moderate Republicans voted to reject that plan. Desperate to get something to a conference committee with the House, McConnell next wrote a bill removing only the most dislike portions of Obamacare, including the individual and business mandates.
The “skinny replace” plan just ended the most unpopular portions of the bill but left the costly Medicaid expansion and all the insurance regulations in place was defeated in the early hours on Friday, July 28 51 to 49. All the Democrats voted against the bill and they were joined by Republican Senators Susan Collins from Maine, Linda Murkowski from Alaska, and John McCain from Arizona.
Senator John McCain said in a statement, “From the beginning, I have believed that Obamacare should be repealed and replaced with a solution that increases competition, lowers costs, and improves care for the American people. The so-called ‘skinny repeal’ amendment the Senate voted on today would not accomplish those goals. While the amendment would have repealed some of Obamacare’s most burdensome regulations, it offered no replacement to actually reform our health care system and deliver affordable, quality health care to our citizens. The Speaker’s statement that the House would be ‘willing’ to go to conference does not ease my concern that this shell of a bill could be taken up and passed at any time.”
Sen. McCain said, “I’ve stated time and time again that one of the major failures of Obamacare was that it was rammed through Congress by Democrats on a strict-party line basis without a single Republican vote. We should not make the mistakes of the past that has led to Obamacare’s collapse, including in my home state of Arizona where premiums are skyrocketing and health care providers are fleeing the marketplace. We must now return to the correct way of legislating and send the bill back to committee, hold hearings, receive input from both sides of aisle, heed the recommendations of nation’s governors, and produce a bill that finally delivers affordable health care for the American people. We must do the hard work our citizens expect of us and deserve.”
President Donald J. Trump (R) was stung by the failure of the Senate to get anything done on healthcare. Trump said on Twitter, “3 Republicans and 48 Democrats let the American people down. As I said from the beginning, let ObamaCare implode, then deal. Watch!”