Just hours after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced that he would attempt to bring a plain repeal of Obamacare to the floor of the Senate, the so-called “moderates” in the Senate moved to kill such a move. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), who voted for repeal in 2015, said, “If it is a bill that simply repeals, I believe that will add to more uncertainty.”
Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), who opposed the Trumpcare Senate bill, said she wouldn’t vote to advance a pure repeal. Senator Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV) also says she won’t vote for such a bill; she voted for precisely such a bill in 2015. She issued this statement:
As I have said before, I did not come to Washington to hurt people. For months, I have expressed reservations about the direction of the bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. I have serious concerns about how we continue to provide affordable care to those who have benefited from West Virginia’s decision to expand Medicaid, especially in light of the growing opioid crisis. All of the Senate health care discussions drafts have failed to address these concerns adequately. My position on this issue is driven by its impact on West Virginians. With that in mind, I cannot vote to repeal Obamacare without a replacement plan that addresses my concerns and the needs of West Virginians.
They won’t be the only ones.
This is an excellent opportunity for conservatives to find out who was serious about Obamacare repeal, and who wasn’t. This should be a litmus test for conservative primary challengers. While President Trump is focusing, laserlike, on offing Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) for the crime of not being sufficiently deferential to Trump himself, Republicans should focus on whether they need Senators who vote to keep in place bad Democratic legislation out of a desire to expand government.
So, where is President Trump?
This would be the time for him to exert some pressure. But so far, it’s just been Vice President Pence, stating that “inaction is not an option.” Except that it is obviously, most assuredly an option. For most senators, it may be the most useful option. This is the problem with a president who seems to care only when his ego is slighted, not about his policy prescriptions.