Amid the collapse of GOP efforts to replace or just outright repeal the Obama administration's Affordable Care Act, Democratic lawmakers have called on their colleagues to work with them to forge a bipartisan compromise to bolster the existing health care law.
On July 17, efforts to pass the Better Care Reconciliation Act, the GOP proposal to replace the ACA, crumbled when four Senate Republicans announced that they would not vote to deliberate on it. The GOP controls 52 seats in the chamber and would need at least 50 votes to advance legislation through budget reconciliation, a procedure that could pass the bill without any Democratic support.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that he would hold a vote to outright repeal the ACA with a two-year delay before implementation.
However, on July 18, McConnell's pivot also hit a roadblock when three GOP senators announced that they would not vote to repeal the ACA without a replacement ready.
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Democratic leadership swiftly capitalized on the legislative stalemate and called for Republicans to reach out to them to help improve the U.S. health care system.
"It's time to move on," said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, according to The Hill. "It's time to start over. Rather than repeating the same failed partisan process yet again, Republicans should work with Democrats on a bill that lowers premiums, provides long-term stability to the markets and improves our health care system."
GOP lawmakers had not solicited any Democratic input while shaping either the BCRA or the House bill, titled the American Health Care Act. Republicans had hoped to bypass their colleagues in reshaping the health care system because Republicans wanted to repeal the ACA, while Democrats have firmly asserted that they will only work to improve the existing law.
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Democratic Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania stated that his party would work with the Republicans if they gave up on their efforts to repeal the ACA and agreed to incrementally improve it.
"If we got to that place where we're off the repeal obsession and actually working on serious problems, which repeal makes everything worse, we should try to work on individual bills as opposed to broad, sweeping comprehensive bills," Casey said.
"McConnell said the failure of the repeal effort would mean you would have to come together and bolster the exchanges and talk about common ground, and that's where we should go," said Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut.
On July 6, McConnell stated during an event in Kentucky that his party would have to work with Democrats to stabilize health care markets if the BCRA failed to pass.
"If my side is unable to agree on an adequate replacement, then some kind of action with regard to the private health insurance market must occur," McConnell said, according to Business Insider.
House Democrats are also calling for their Republican peers to come to the table. Democratic Rep. Scott Peters of California has circulated a proposal for his colleagues to reach out to House Speaker Paul Ryan.
"Now is not the time for Republicans to double down on their partisan strategy, or for Democrats to high-give over the other side's political disaster," Peters said in a statement.
Ryan fired back during a press conference that he would only work with Democrats if they agreed to repeal the ACA.
"If they want to get away from government-run health care, if they don't want to double down on the failure of Obamacare, then I think we have something to work with," Ryan said. "The problem is we just haven't seen any evidence yet."
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump suggested that his administration would allow the health care markets to deteriorate if congressional Republicans could not repeal or replace the ACA.
"I'm not going to own it," Trump told The Associated Press. "I can tell you that the Republicans are not going to own it. We'll let Obamacare fail and then the Democrats are going to come to us and they're going to say how do we fix it?"