On Thursday, Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) issued a statement supporting full repeal of Obamacare:
“After being involved in many discussions over the past several months with my colleagues and stakeholders across Tennessee, I believe the best path forward is for Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act after a reasonable transition period,” said Corker. “This takes us back to a level playing field where, by a date certain, all sides have incentive to work together to develop a health care replacement that can generate broad support and will stand the test of time. Regardless of how we move forward, it is my hope that our focus will be not only on coverage but also on lowering the actual cost of health care.”
Corker participated in a lengthy meeting held by senators last night and also attended the lunch meeting held yesterday at the White House.
Corker had previously opposed efforts to repeal Obamacare without having a complete alternative in place.
Critics on the left criticized Corker’s change of heart, while conservatives, many of whom have fiercely criticized Corker in the past, applauded it.
“Tennessee Democratic Party Chairwoman Mary Mancini and the U.S. Senate campaign of Democrat James Mackler were having none of it and quickly opened fire on Corker’s abrupt shift,” the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported on Friday:
“Now he is going back on everything he said less than six months ago,” Mancini said Thursday. “Sen. Corker has been playing politics with Tennesseans’ health care for years. When will he start putting the people of Tennessee over his political party and his political agenda?”
Mackler’s campaign manager, Dave Hoffman, charged in a statement that “one party writing secret bills behind closed doors with zero hearings is exactly what putting politics first looks like. Tennesseans do not need more hollow words from Sen. Corker.”
Corker, who is up for re-election in 2018, has come under criticism from Tennessee conservatives for his persistent criticism of President Trump. The president is extremely popular among Tennessee Republicans who are likely to vote in the 2018 Republican primary, a recent Tennessee Star Poll showed.
That same poll showed that Corker is surprisingly vulnerable for an incumbent, finishing in a statistical tie in a hypothetical head-to-head match up with Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN-07).
Some political insiders think that Corker’s announcement he now favors repeal of Obamacare as a stand alone bill is an effort to shore up his support among conservatives and fend off a potential primary challenge.