Politico reported on Tuesday that “Republican leaders want resolution to the tumultuous Obamacare repeal debate by the Fourth of July recess, Republican sources said, to ensure that the whole year isn’t consumed by health care and that the GOP leaves room to consider tax reform.” In a telling quote, one source familiar with negotiations said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell “wants to be done with this one way or the other.” He’s eager to get to tax reform, while avoiding a debt default along with a government shutdown later this year.
At the moment, Trumpcare’s chances in the Senate aren’t looking good. The GOP is still divided over its substance, the working groups aren’t helping, and the policy lunches aren’t going well. Senator Susan Collins didn’t exactly inspire confidence when she told Politico that “cobbling together a bill that could get 50 votes is going to be a challenge, but you never know.” Meanwhile, Senators Lindsey Graham and Richard Burr are openly saying Republicans won’t overhaul health care this year.
Passing legislation always carried enormous political risk for Republicans, seeing as it could strip millions of Americans of coverage. But the GOP has pledged to repeal Obamacare since it’s passage, and failing on that signature comittment this summer—with a Republican president and majorities in both houses of Congress—would be the ultimate broken campaign promise. That’s one reason to believe the Senate will get some kind of reform over the finish line in July.
But others are preparing for total failure. “Some Senate Republican aides and associates are already privately discussing how the GOP would craft its midterm campaign message if it fails to pass a health-care bill,” The Washington Post reported on Tuesday, “suggesting they could tell voters they need to build a bigger majority to finally undo the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, as they have long promised.” But that’s an embarrassing situation for them, which speaks to the deep division and dysfunction in their ranks.