GOP leaders: Dems should vote on ‘nuclear option’ to approve Obamacare repeal
GOP leaders have agreed to move forward with a bipartisan proposal to overturn the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, despite warnings from Democrats that such a move would undermine the public’s trust in the health care law.
But Republicans, who control both chambers of Congress, will need to pass legislation by the end of the week to avoid a government shutdown, and have yet to decide whether to take a different tack.
Democrats say the measure would have a devastating impact on the millions of Americans who rely on Medicaid to pay for insurance, and the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the measure could lead to a net loss of more than $300 billion.
And a poll released Friday by Quinnipiac University shows that a slim majority of Americans believe the government should not use the mandate to help pay for healthcare, while nearly three in four oppose it.
The Senate vote comes after Democrats rejected a GOP bill that would have repealed the individual mandate earlier this week.
But Republicans said the vote was necessary to show their commitment to the public, after they failed to garner enough votes to pass the bill in the House.
“The American people deserve better,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a statement Friday.
“The American public deserves better.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., echoed the sentiment, saying in a tweet that the vote on the individual-mandate repeal “is the right thing to do.”
Ryan said Republicans will not make any changes to the law in the Senate.
And House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D, Calif., also said Friday that the Senate should move forward on the bill.
“We’re moving forward,” she said.
“It’s our responsibility to act on the president’s direction.
I think this is the time for us to move the country forward.”
The Senate is expected to vote on its own version of the bill later Friday.
Republicans say the vote is necessary to give the House enough time to pass a final bill.
House Minority Leader Rep. Jim Clyburn, D.S., said Democrats will use the vote to force a vote on whether to end the federal government’s shutdown.
“This is a bipartisan vote that’s about restoring the trust of the American people and putting a new face on the Affordable Act,” Clyburn said in an interview.
The House passed the House version of its Obamacare repeal bill in May, but the Senate voted against it, arguing that it would undermine President Donald Trump’s efforts to overhaul the health law.
Democrats argued that the law is already in place and that the GOP bill would simply increase the cost of healthcare.
Republicans are also expected to push legislation to repeal the Affordable Workplaces Act, which allows employers to set up plans with employees in exchange for federal subsidies.
The Senate has already passed a bill that repeals the measure.
House Democrats also plan to introduce a bill on Saturday that would allow insurance companies to charge more to older people, which could drive up premiums for those consumers.
A senior Senate GOP aide said the Senate would hold a vote next week on whether or not to pass another measure that would help pay health care costs for people with preexisting conditions.