Tennessee’s Republican senators both voted early Friday for a health care bill amendment that would have repealed parts of Obamacare, though less dramatically than an amendment defeated earlier this week.
The latest amendment, defeated by a 51-49 Senate vote, was dubbed “skinny repeal” and was sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). The stronger amendment defeated Wednesday was sponsored by his fellow Kentucky Republican senator, Rand Paul.
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), who voted against Sen. Paul’s amendment because it didn’t have an immediate replacement plan, but who voted to advance Sen. McConnell’s “skinny repeal” said:
I voted to take the next step toward what I believed was our best opportunity to repeal and replace Obamacare. The Senate’s failure to do this leaves an urgent problem that I am committed to addressing: Tennessee’s state insurance commissioner says our individual insurance market is very near collapse. Unless Congress acts, many of the 350,000 Tennesseans who buy health insurance in that market—songwriters, farmers, the self-employed—face the real prospect of having zero options to buy insurance in 2018 and 2019.
Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) said in a statement:
My strong preference was for Congress to advance legislation I supported earlier this week to repeal Obamacare after a reasonable transition period. I sincerely believed that was the best path forward and would have taken us back to a level playing field where, by a date certain, all sides would have had incentive to work together to develop a health care replacement that would generate broad support and stand the test of time. Unfortunately, that amendment failed to achieve the votes necessary to advance.
I am disappointed that the Senate failed this morning to advance legislation that would allow us to continue our work to repeal and replace Obamacare, which is driving up costs and limiting choices for families in Tennessee and across our country. It is my hope that we will expeditiously move to a process that will generate an outcome that is better for the American people than what is in place today.
Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Susan Collins of Maine were the only Republicans who voted against the “skinny repeal” amendment. Every Democrat voted no.
It’s unclear what will happen next, but Republican efforts to repeal or significantly change Obama’s Affordable Care Act seem increasingly doomed, at least for now. Republicans have been unable to work effectively on health care legislation, despite having control of the White House and both houses of Congress, and having promised voters to address Obamacare.