Senate Republican leaders missed two related, self-imposed deadlines last week. First, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his allies originally planned to hold a vote on their regressive health care overhaul on Thursday, but they had to retreat when the bill fell short of 50 votes.
Second, McConnell and the GOP leadership planned to craft a bill by Friday that enjoyed enough Republican support to pass, send it to the Congressional Budget Office, and then vote on it when senators return to Capitol Hill next week. That plan quietly fell apart, too.
That said, McConnell did send a proposal to the CBO for a score -- it's like the original bill, only with changes recommended by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) -- not because it has enough support to pass, but because the CBO's report would produce information that could prove useful as the deliberations continue.
Donald Trump and his team are already on board with Cruz's version.
The White House is backing a health care proposal that would make it easier for insurance companies to avoid complying with consumer protection standards, siding with some of the most conservative senators, though Senate Republican leaders remain leery of the idea. [...]Under the proposal, insurers could sell almost any kind of health plan they wanted as long as they also offered at least one plan that complied with federal mandates like those in the Affordable Care Act, including coverage for maternity care and mental health services.
Obviously, the details of Cruz's approach matter, but it's a little tough to scrutinize right now. The New York Times ran a good overview yesterday on the outline of the Texan's plan, but the details haven't been released to the public, so there's a lot we don't know about its effects.
But while we wait to hear what the CBO has to say, let's pause to ask a different question: have you noticed just how eager Trump World is to support literally every Republican plan?
In early March, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) had a draft, which Trump endorsed. Soon after, House Republicans tried to pass a related overhaul, and though the bill came up short, it also enjoyed the president's enthusiastic backing. Two months later, the bill had changed quite a bit, and Trump supported that version, too.
In the upper chamber, Trump announced his enthusiastic backing for Mitch McConnell's bill. When Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) unveiled an alternative approach, Trump endorsed it. When Ted Cruz recommended a different tack, Trump said he supports that, too.
This is getting a little silly. If you're a Republican, and you have a health care plan, the president is going to get behind it -- no matter what it says.
As Vox's Tara Golshan explained a couple of weeks ago, "Trump doesn't seem to have a policy preference: He has been in favor of every iteration of Congress's health bill plans -- no matter how much or little it differs from the last version, or how much it breaks the many campaign promises he made last year."