In the early hours of Friday morning, in a 49 to 51 vote, the Senate rejected a final attempt from the Republican party to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
The deciding factor in the vote was Sen. John McCain, who had so far voted along party lines to repeal the ACA. However, McCain joined the likes of Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska in going against the party and voting “no” to the repeal. This tense and dramatic vote was the last in a series of three votes which began last Tuesday to repeal the ACA.
For many Americans this caused a sense of panic, as the CBO reported that any of the three plans presented would have robbed 15-32 million Americans of their health insurance.
Despite the sheer terror felt by millions across the country the last several days, it’s quite humorous that this is the ultimate culmination of seven years of bluster and posturing on the part of the Republican party.
In under a week, the party held and lost three different votes. The first to repeal the ACA and replace it with the Better Care Reconciliation Act, the second to completely repeal the ACA, and the most recent proposition of a “skinny repeal.”
This “skinny repeal” was their last attempt to get rid of the ACA and it wouldn’t have even removed any of the programs or insurance infrastructure set up by the ACA; all it would have done was remove the mandates. Granted, removing the mandates would have, according to the Central Budget Office, taken insurance away from 16 million people across the country and raised insurance premiums by 20 percent over the next year.
It’s mind-blowing that the GOP has had seven years to come up with a viable alternative to “Obamacare,” and yet they weren’t even able to devise a plan that didn’t take insurance away from millions of people.
It can be said that much like a dog chasing cars wouldn’t know how to drive one, the GOP has spent so long trying to gain power that they don’t know what to do with it now that they own all three branches of the government. The Republican party failed in the one of the biggest promises that it has made to its voter bases.
The health care vote should have been a walk in the park for them, because unlike any future votes on the matter, they didn’t have the filibuster to contend with. This is due to the vote happening under “Reconciliation,” which is used to pass through matters of the budget with expediency, as it precludes the use of the filibuster and allows for only 20 hours worth of debate.
Had the Democrats been able to filibuster, it would’ve taken 60 votes on behalf of the GOP to repeal the ACA, but without it, only a simple majority was needed. This was necessary as the Senate is currently split 52 to 48, with a very slim majority for Republicans.
And yet, despite their seemingly easy victory, they couldn’t get any of their repeal plans to pass. In fact, they couldn’t even get a repeal plan that their whole party could get behind.
So what does this mean for the future of America?
Well for one, American health care is relatively safe for the foreseeable future.
Friday, July 28 is the last day that the Senate will be in session before a month-long recess throughout August, according to the Hill’s congressional calendar.
Additionally, CNN reports that in a speech to the Senate, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said that it was “time to move on.”
The GOP has lost their momentum on this matter and it’s highly unlikely that they’ll return to health care for some time.
Of course, when a destructive toddler moves on from one room to another it’s always a great concern, so when NBC reports that the Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is talking about moving on from health care onto tax reform, one can’t help but be worried.
Whether or not the GOP can actually come together on this does remain to be seen, what with the investigations into the White House and divisions between moderate and conservative Republicans in Congress.
So let us hope, that much like a dog trying to drive a car, the Republicans never figure out how turn it on in the first place.
Q Russell is a junior journalism major for Charlotte, NC