On Tuesday afternoon, 4-D Chess Master Mitch McConnell delayed the vote on the bill until after the July 4 recess. It was a move that took even his own team by surprise and The New York Times called it a blow to McConnell’s reputation as a “master tactician.” After a terrible CBO score, it had become clear that the Senate leader simply did not have the votes.
But a setback for Republicans does not mean Obamacare is safe. Earlier this month it was reported by Axios Presented by the MTA that McConnell is “desperate to move on to tax reform and can’t have health care hanging around like a bad smell through the summer.” Delaying the vote means that McConnell is serious about passing the bill. It’s reported that we might see a new draft of the bill as early as Friday.
As Sarah Kliff points out at Vox, a delayed vote for the House bill (remember Trump playing with trucks?) did not stop the GOP in the long run. It’s hard to underestimate how much Republicans want to pass some sort of Obamacare repeal, regardless of individual senators’ bleating. And as Kliff notes, it’s important to remember that House Republicans were not deterred by the fact that nearly everyone—liberals, conservatives, friends, family—absolutely hated the American Health Care Act.
But the delay does give an opening for organizers, who will be able to protest on lawmakers’ front lawns when they return home for the recess. During the fight over the House bill, activists were caught flat-footed after Paul Ryan called off the vote in March, thinking that the bill was dead in the water. Going into the recess, it will be important for Democrats to emphasize that the Senate bill is, in fact, alive and kicking.