Republican Senators have taken a dramatic first step in dismantling the Affordable Care Act (ACA), passing a budget resolution in the midnight hours and without any Democratic cooperation. During deliberations, Republicans shot down several amendments concerning health care protections, signaling what their replacement for the ACA might look like.
On Jan. 12, the GOP majority in the Senate passed a budget resolution that called for both chambers of Congress to draft legislation to repeal crucial portions of the ACA, the signature domestic policy of President Barack Obama.
The budget was approved entirely by Republican votes, with 51 voting yes while all 47 Democratic members of the Senate voted against. Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky was the only GOP lawmaker to vote against the budget resolution, The Washington Post reports.
During deliberations, Democratic lawmakers introduced several non binding amendments to the budget. The votes were primarily symbolic but provide an indication of how lawmakers plan on implementing policy down the road.
The vast majority of GOP lawmakers voted down the health care protections, some of them the most popular components of the ACA, according to Think Progress.
First, 50 GOP lawmakers voted against an amendment that would prohibit insurers from denying Americans coverage for preexisting conditions, a health care requirement that had been introduced by the ACA.
The second amendment voted down by 50 Republican lawmakers would have allowed for Americans under the age of 26 to remain on their parents' health care plans, a component of the ACA that had resulted in roughly 6 million young Americans procuring health insurance since 2010.
The third amendment blocked by the Republican majority called for the continuation of the ACA's health care coverage for women's contraception.
The fourth amendment voted against by 50 GOP lawmakers had called for the further expansion of Medicaid benefits.
The fifth amendment that GOP lawmakers voted down called for young children to continue receiving coverage through Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
Lastly, the GOP majority voted against an amendment that would have called for increased funding for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), which provides health care benefits to veterans.
The only Republicans to vote in favor of the amendments were Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Dean Heller of Nevada.
With a majority of 52 seats in the Senate, Republican lawmakers have indicated that they plan to repeal broad swaths of the ACA through a budget reconciliation bill, which would require a simple majority to pass. Legislation to replace the ACA would require 60 votes, or the cooperation of at least eight Democratic lawmakers.
While GOP lawmakers are moving swiftly the repeal the ACA, they have yet to coalesce around a comprehensive replacement plan. Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin has suggested that the conservative replacement of Obamacare will arrive incrementally.
"I don't think you're going to see one massive plan like Obamacare," Johnson told CNN. "You're going to see a step-by-step approach targeting the individual damage of the individual reforms, and we'll put in replacements for each individual one of those problems," Johnson told CNN.
On Jan. 13, the budget resolution will head to the House for further consideration. Several House lawmakers have expressed concern about repealing the ACA without presenting a replacement plan. President-elect Donald Trump has publicly vowed that the replacement plan will be introduced during the same period as repeal.