Though the GOP still controls both chambers of Congress and maintains the ability to jam through a repeal-and-replace bill via a simple majority, there are no discussions of doing so here at House and Senate Republicans’ joint retreat at The Greenbrier resort. Republicans doubt they can even pass a budget providing for the powerful party-line “reconciliation” procedure used to pass tax reform last year, much less take on the politically perilous task of rewriting health care laws in an election year.
“I don’t think leadership wants to,” said Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), who worked with South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on a last-ditch repeal effort last fall. “In the sense of Graham-Cassidy, a partisan exercise? Doesn’t look like it.”
Republicans' decision to abstain from another attempt at gutting Barack Obama’s health law — at least this year — goes back on a pledge the party has made to voters since 2010. And it underscores how Republicans overpromised in their ability to reform the nation’s health care and never fully recognized how divided the party is over key Obamacare planks like protecting pre-existing conditions and preserving the law’s Medicaid expansion.
And now the GOP is facing reality. Senate Republicans would struggle to pass a bill slashing at Obamacare under the best circumstances this year. They lost a Senate seat in Alabama in December and are down another vote as Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) undergoes cancer treatment. GOP leaders would rather put the debacle of last year’s failed attempt behind them.