While the future of the U.S. Senate’s plan to repeal and replace President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare legislation is still up in the air, President Donald Trump weighed in on Twitter this morning.
If Republican Senators are unable to pass what they are working on now, they should immediately REPEAL, and then REPLACE at a later date!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 30, 2017
That idea was quickly endorsed by Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who retweeted Trump.
I have spoken to @realDonaldTrump & Senate leadership about this and agree. Let’s keep our word to repeal then work on replacing right away.
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) June 30, 2017
But the plan to repeal and then replace might create more problems for Republicans in the long-term.
Right now, Republicans need 50 votes to get their healthcare bill passed in the Senate, assuming Vice President Mike Pence would cast a tie-breaking vote. That’s proving difficult, as Paul and several other Republicans aren’t on board because they say it would pull away coverage from too many, or doesn’t go far enough.
If senators take Trump’s recommendation of repealing now, that bill might be able to clear the Senate. But lawmakers are considering these bills under the reconciliation process provided for in Congressional rules. This is for bills that only include items that affect federal spending.
A future replacement bill would effectively be new legislation, and affect areas other than federal spending. Thus, it would require 60 votes to pass the Senate. That would mean the body’s 52 Republicans would have to shore up at least 8 Democratic votes. That could be an insurmountable hurdle, because gaining bipartisan support could require concessions like the inclusion of an individual mandate to buy health insurance and coverage of pre-existing conditions without any loopholes–policies favored by Democrats but opposed by some Republicans.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has delayed a vote on the Senate’s repeal-and-replace bill until after the July 4th recess.