There’s some disagreement about how many times House Republicans have voted to repeal all or parts of the Affordable Care Act. I’ve seen some estimates of 56 separate votes, though some put the total a little higher.
But let’s not forget their friends on the other side of the Capitol. As National Journal reports, Senate Republicans are at least going through the motions to keep their repeal crusade alive, too.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has proposed repealing Obamacare as part of the long-term highway bill currently being considered in the upper chamber.McConnell’s office said Friday that the Senate would vote Sunday on an amendment to the highway legislation that would repeal the Affordable Care Act. The initial vote, which would cap debate on the repeal amendment, would need 60 votes.
Obviously, this is a ridiculous endeavor. The very idea of repealing an effective health care law is increasingly bizarre, and as Senate GOP leaders realize, there’s zero chance of the repeal measure passing. The fact that Mitch McConnell sees this as a necessary part of the debate over highway spending is itself quite sad.
So why in the world is the Republican leader doing this, announcing an ACA repeal vote out of the blue? Apparently because McConnell is looking for an adequate pacifier for his far-right flank and this is the best he could come up with.
This gets a little complicated, but McConnell appears to see Obamacare repeal as a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down. The medicine, in this case, is the restoration of the Export-Import Bank. The Washington Post reported this morning on how the Senate Majority Leader hopes to get the highway bill through the chamber:
McConnell … set up votes on two controversial measures – a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, and a reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank of the United States – and did it in such a way that will make it difficult for other amendments to be considered.That move incensed [Sen. Ted Cruz] – who had announced his intention to offer other amendments, and who, like many conservatives, strongly opposes the bank’s reauthorization, though it enjoys support from a supermajority of his Senate colleagues. While McConnell has personally spoken against Ex-Im reauthorization, Democrats said in June he had agreed to schedule an Ex-Im vote in order to get highly divisive trade legislation passed.
Though McConnell said there was no deal, Cruz is now convinced that McConnell lied, which has apparently enraged the Texas Republican. Politico added:
Ted Cruz took to the Senate floor Friday and charged that Mitch McConnell told a “lie,” escalating his campaign against GOP leaders and challenging the traditions of the usually decorous chamber.In a scathing floor speech, the Texas firebrand accused the Senate majority leader of breaking his word to him and the rest of the GOP conference over McConnell’s plans for the controversial Export-Import Bank, the country’s chief export credit agency.
C-SPAN posted Cruz’s entire harangue to YouTube. For a senator who claims to abhor “Republican-on-Republican violence” when the topic is Donald Trump, Cruz has no similar qualms when publicly expressing his scorn for Mitch McConnell.