Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina has expressed skepticism that he and his colleagues could agree upon legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act within 2017.
On June 6, Senate Republicans were scheduled to hold a series of meetings to determine whether they would be able to pass a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as "Obamacare," before their July 4 recess, Politico reports.
The Senate Majority Leader, Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell of Alabama, has set the deadline for his colleagues to tackle health care for the end of June. With a 52-seat majority in the chamber, Senate Republicans hope to pass an Obamacare repeal bill with only 50 votes and Vice President Mike Pence serving as a tiebreaker.
On June 5, Graham voiced skepticism that a health care bill would be passed by that deadline, or even within the year.
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"I don’t think there will be," Graham told Bloomberg Politics. "I just don’t think we can put it together among ourselves."
The South Carolina senator told reporters on Capitol Hill that he would prefer the Trump administration allow the ACA markets to collapse so Democrats would be pressured to help Republicans craft a replacement.
"I've always believed let Obamacare collapse... that has always been my preferred route," Graham said, according to the Washington Examiner.
Senate Republicans had opted not to consider the American Health Care Act that passed the House in early May, deeming the legislation to be too politically controversial.
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On May 24, McConnell acknowledged that it was a challenge for his colleagues to work out a health care bill that they could unify behind.
"I don't know how we get to 50 (votes) at the moment," McConnell told Reuters. "But that's the goal."
Several Republican operatives believe that McConnell would hold a health care vote by his deadline even if the legislation did not have enough votes to pass.
“I think the destination is already set," an anonymous GOP health care lobbyist told Vox. "But what’s the path? They have to be able to show the electorate a body, to say that they tried and failed."
Senate Republicans' struggle to find a consensus replacement of the ACA recalls the words of former House Speaker John Boehner, who predicted that the effort would end in failure.
On Feb. 23, Boehner asserted during a health care conference that Republicans would ultimately settle on making changes to the ACA instead rather than repeal it altogether.
"They'll fix Obamacare, and I shouldn't have called it repeal and replace because that’s not what’s going to happen," Boehner said.
The former House Speaker added "Republicans never, ever, one time agreed on what a health care proposal should look like… they will never ever agree on what the bill should be."