Saturday, May 13, 2017

Yarmuth says McConnell won't let a health bill get a Senate vote for fear it would backfire on Republican senators

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says the U.S. Senate is working on its own health-care bill, but Kentucky's only Democrat in Congress said Friday that McConnell won't bring the bill to a vote in order to protect his fellow Republicans from retribution by voters, Ronnie Ellis reports for CNHI News Service.

Yarmuth (WDRB image)
“I’m convinced that Mitch McConnell will not allow anything to get out of the Senate because he doesn’t want any one of his members to have to take a vote on health care,” Rep. John Yarmuth of Louisville told Together Frankfort, a civic-engagement group. “At least a half-dozen could be vulnerable if they have to cast a tough vote on health care.”

Republicans have 52 Senate seats to Democrats’ 48, including two independents who vote with Democrats, Ellis notes. In the 2018 elections, only eight seats now held by Republicans are up, putting Democrats on the defensive. "But Democrats are feeling increasingly optimistic about their 2018 prospects – especially in the House, where they need to pick up 24 seats to gain control — in the aftermath of constituent unhappiness over the House healthcare vote and Trump’s rocky first three months in office," Ellis reports.

McConnell spokesman Robert Steurer "didn’t directly address Yarmuth’s comments, instead pointing to a floor speech McConnell gave earlier this past Wednesday in which he said the ACA continues to fail “'the American people and keeps getting worse'," Ellis reports. "He went on to say Democrats have indicated a willingness to work with Republicans on 'common-sense reforms' and said he welcomes Democrats’ input."

"With control of the White House and both chambers of Congress, Republicans are scrambling to make good on their promises while trying to preserve popular provisions" of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Ellis writes. "After a failed attempt earlier this year, House Republicans narrowly passed the American Health Care Act, which has prompted angry protests at congressional town halls. Critics say the measure will cut Medicaid by $880 billion over 10 years, weaken or eliminate the prohibition on denial of coverage due to pre-existing conditions, and ultimately cost 24 million people health-care coverage."

McConnell has named 13 Republicans to write a bill that Republicans "hope to pass on a simple majority vote through what is known as the reconciliation process," Ellis notes. "Such votes can only be taken on legislation which pertains to the budget and the federal deficit and the Senate parliamentarian must rule on whether legislation qualifies for such a vote. Otherwise, Republicans would need 60 votes to avoid a Democratic filibuster."

Yarmuth said Republicans have realized “they have no place to go on health care,” and that the only acceptable alternative to "Obamacare' is a single-payer system. “I’m convinced that within 10 years there’s going to be a major push for Medicare for everybody and it’s going to come from corporate America,” he said.

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