As you read this article, bear in mind the two Republican senators mentioned told the voters of their state and the country they would vote to repeal and replace Obamacare long ago. Now the nation focuses its eyes on Sens. John McCain (Ariz.) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) as “their party” attempts to repeal Obamacare in the next nine days.
These two senators were prime opponents among the three Republicans who sank the last GOP effort to repeal the unpopular law. President Trump and his allies cannot afford to lose the vote next week.
Sen. Murkowski demands that her state, Alaska, huge, isolated and sparsely populated, get a big piece of the bill’s attention. The bill would repeal much of Obamacare and use the savings for block grants for states, as suggested by Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC).
Sen. McCain, who has no love lost with Trump in personal vendetta, has used it to in-your-face the president at every turn. McCain has gone back on his previous personal vow to his state’s voters to repeal the law. He was directly responsible for the thumbs-down in a July vote.
Like Murkowski, the big picture to McCain is the little picture of his own state and his personal squabble; not the nation as a whole. He says otherwise, but his actions speak for themselves. He is smoke screening his hatred of Trump with his vanilla quotes of hearings and amendments and an effort at bipartisanship. That last objective is utterly laughable.
Then there is Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). He is the only public GOP no vote so far. But socialist Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), the third Republican no vote in July, is seen as a likely opponent in this political soap opera of egos.
If there is no Collins, only one defection can remain. These senators know their position of power and now will abuse it to the end. Little time remains for the children to settle their differences for the American people. Republicans only have until Sept. 30 to pass the bill under special budgetary rules.
McCain and Murkowski both face pressure from their governors. It is much deeper than that. Entire movements of protest have formed in their prospective states as angry voters scream, “You promised!”
The real politics of this mess is not mentioned by the senators. Alaska has the nation’s highest premiums and benefited from Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion. The state likely would lose out under the latest repeal bill, primarily because it eliminates funding for the expansion and Obamacare subsidies in exchange for a lump sum of money through 2026. No one outside of the very studious knows this part of the indignation provided before the cameras.
There is more hidden motivation. Murkowski’s funding for Planned Parenthood. It would be defunded for a year under the new bill. She is holding up this voter pandering to part of her voting base.
For bitter John McCain, there are two deciding factors. His relationship with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and the way the Senate handles the bill. Graham, an author of the repeal measure, is one of McCain’s closest friends, and there is reason to think his loyalty to the South Carolina senator could be enough to win his vote.
Pandering Republicans seeking to win McCain over have also promised a hearing on the bill next week in the Finance Committee. Will that placate bitter and vengeful John the war hero?
Republicans could skip the committee vote, given their time frame, and bring the measure straight to the floor. Graham sounded positive about the prospects of winning over McCain on Tuesday.
Like a mother speaking about her temperamental child, Graham said earlier in the week, “I’ll let John speak for himself, but he likes federalism. Let’s put it this way, I feel very good about this, and we’ll see.”
“Federalism” Senator John? You mean big government.