Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., walks with Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa. to the chamber to vote at the Capitol in Washington, Feb. 10, 2016.
Photo by J. Scott Applewhite/AP

McConnell prepares for the ‘conclusion’ of the health care fight

Updated
A couple of weeks ago, MSNBC’s Chris Hayes had a fascinating chat with Rep. Leonard Lance (R-N.J.), who was pressed on a single point: how many hearings did House Republicans hold on their health care plan before passing out of committee?

Lance, reluctant to acknowledge that the number was zero, dodged the question repeatedly, before the congressman eventually said he thought the Senate might hold some “discussion” about the legislation.

As it turns out, that’s not going to happen. The House vote is still scheduled for tomorrow – though that may be delayed if GOP leaders find themselves far short of the votes they’ll need – but in the upper chamber, Republican leaders are moving forward with a plan to make this mess go away as quickly as possible. Politico reported:
Senate Republicans are unlikely to hold any committee hearings, and many of them haven’t even read what the House is about to pass. It’s unclear, to put it mildly, how proponents can placate enough moderates or conservatives to get the bill across the finish line.

But GOP leaders are showing no signs of applying the brakes.

“We’re not slowing down,” [Senate Majority Leader Mitch] McConnell said on Tuesday. “We will reach a conclusion on health care next week.”
The Kentucky Republican didn’t literally say, “Let’s just get this over with,” but he probably should’ve, since that sentiment appears to be guiding his plans.

On the surface, the idea of the Senate bypassing the committee process and skipping all hearings on legislation of this significance seems insane, but McConnell doesn’t seem intent on jamming the bill through Congress; rather, he seems eager to kill the bill and move on to something else.

There are basically two ways of looking at this dynamic: McConnell is either (a) planning to rush this bill through because he thinks it can pass, and he’s trying to limit the opportunity for opponents to marshal their forces; or (b) realizing that the legislation will never get to 50 votes, so there’s no point in dragging out failure.

I’m reasonably confident the latter scenario is the correct one.

Why does this matter when all eyes are on the House, where the outcome is so uncertain? Because conditions in the Senate should help dictate results in the House: GOP leaders are asking House Republicans to vote for a wildly unpopular bill that would do tremendous harm to the American health care system. For their trouble, these same House Republicans are learning that the bill, if it somehow passes their chamber, will likely die a week later in the Senate, ensuring that the House took this vote for nothing.

For GOP House members worried about 2018 attack ads, this is an all-risk, no-reward scenario.

One unnamed Republican senator told Politico, “Maybe the best outcome is for this to fail in the House so we can move on to tax reform. Which is what we should have done anyway.”

It’s quotes like these that will make it that much more difficult for House GOP leaders tomorrow.

Health Care and Mitch McConnell

McConnell prepares for the 'conclusion' of the health care fight

Updated