WASHINGTON – As Senate Republicans attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Senate Democrats are desperate to save former President Barack Obama’s signature piece of legislation.
On Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence cast the tie-breaking vote to allow debate on the health care bill Senate Republicans crafted. Shortly after the procedural vote, Minnesota Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken voiced their disappointment in their Republican colleagues.
“We can still stop this bill,” Klobuchar said in a statement posted to Facebook. “We can still put aside partisanship and instead work together on bipartisan solutions that will help every American.”
Franken rebuked the GOP’s health care proposal, calling the bill “shameful” and saying it will “go down in history, and not for a good reason.” The junior senator also called for a bipartisan approach to fixing the ACA.
“I strongly urge my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to back off this plan, because there’s still time to come to the table and work with Democrats on real solutions that improve people’s health care,” Franken said in a press release. “Let’s have an open, bipartisan process under regular order, where we can work together on fixing the Affordable Care Act and do the things the American people actually sent us here to do: expand coverage, lower costs, and improve care.”
As Alpha News previously reported, Klobuchar and Franken found a surprising concurring voice in former Republican Sen. David Durenberger who wrote an opinion piece for USA Today, cautioning against voting for a bill that “doesn’t add up.”
Despite Tuesday’s successful procedural vote, Senate Republicans are still struggling to reach a consensus on health care reform. The Senate has voted on two measures since Tuesday, both failing to earn enough votes. The first bill, a comprehensive health care reform that would have been a partial repeal and replace of the ACA, failed with 43 votes in favor and 57 votes against.
On Wednesday, the Senate rejected a proposal that would have been a full repeal of the ACA with a transition period for legislators to craft a replacement. The final vote was 45-55 with seven Republicans opposing the measure. The Senate passed an identical bill in 2015 despite knowing it would be vetoed by then President Barack Obama. Now, with President Donald Trump waiting to sign a bill, some Republicans appeared to get cold feet on a straight repeal.
Despite Democrat senators like Klobuchar and Franken calling for a bipartisan solution to the problems in the ACA, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is refusing to work with Republicans on crafting legislation both parties can agree on.
“Democrats are not going to participate in this one-sided and broken process,” Schumer said Wednesday evening. “Once the majority leader shows his hand, reveals what his bill will actually be, Democrats will use the opportunity to try and amend the bill.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) continues to strive to unite his party, reportedly now considering a so-called “skinny repeal” which would eliminate the ACA’s mandates and some of the tax burden while keeping in place the Medicaid expansion.
While Minnesota’s senators are pumping the brakes on health care reform, Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton admits the ACA is “no longer affordable.” Dayton has called on Congress to stabilize the market and fix the rising costs.