By: Zack Duvall
Confidence in GOP circles on Capitol Hill about the prospect of passing a Republican drafted healthcare bill, criticized by members of both parties, is at an all time low. The effort to repeal and replace Obamacare has stalled in not only the Senate, but the House as well.
Major Republican caucuses, such has the Freedom Caucus, as well as nationally renowned Republican figures have voiced their opposition to what they have called “Obamacare lite.” Texas Senator, and former presidential candidate, Ted Cruz has been a vocal opponent of the current bill, but has recently said he would vote yes if an amendment he has drafted is added to the bill. His amendment would allow for unregulated insurance policies that would benefit younger, healthier Americans.
However, Critics of the Cruz amendment say that it would unfairly burden older Americans with higher premiums, as a result of healthier millennial age Americans leaving the regulated marketplaces.
Despite push-back and sharp criticism, Republican Congressional leaders, such as Senate Republican Whip, John Cornyn (R-TX.), indicated that they were prepared to proceed with a debate, and vote, on the bill if for no other reason than to continue the dialog between lawmakers on the issue of healthcare.
“We’re just trying to get a good picture of what the alternatives are, and, hopefully, next week we’ll be prepared to take the bill up and vote on it.” Cornyn told reporters outside of his office Monday, where he also confirmed speculation that leaders were going to have a draft bill ready by early next week.
However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s spokesperson, David Popp, was more vague on the matter and much less optimistic on Tuesday.
“I don’t have any expectations of an exact bill release date, but the leader said over the past couple of weeks that a Congressional Budget Office score was forthcoming.” Popp told reporters fro USA Today.
The score, that Popp is referring to, is an independent, non-partisan, analysis of the costs and impact that a proposed piece of legislation will have on Americans and the nation as a whole. The Congressional Budget Office is also reviewing all of the potential amendments and changes to the draft bill that Republicans hope to pass before the start of the delayed August recess.
The mixed reaction among Republican lawmakers is concerning for supporters of the proposed healthcare bill because GOP leaders can only afford to have two members break ranks and vote no. With a vote already being cancelled by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell because of a lack of support among Republicans.
With pressure mounting on Republicans in Congress to fulfill the numerous election time promises of repealing Obamacare, and offering a successful replacement, GOP members and Congressional leaders are scrambling to come to come up with a bill that all members are confident enough to vote yes on and will offer the kind of affordable healthcare that was promised to Americans when Republicans won all three houses of government this past November.
Protesters stormed the Capitol offices of major Republican figures on Monday, resulting in the arrest of roughly 80 people involved with the protests, a sign that, even with the delay of the annual August recess by lawmakers, some Americans are not happy with the slow progression of the bill through Republican held chambers of Congress.