Mitch McConnell

A Massive Defeat for McConnell

Politico: “The failure of Obamacare repeal marks Mitch McConnell’s lowest point as Senate GOP leader. Despite having a Republican in the White House, full GOP control of Congress, and seven years of campaign promises – ‘pulling out Obamacare root and branch,’ as the Kentucky Republican famously declared – McConnell acknowledged this week that that he didn’t have the votes to even start debate on replacing the 2010 Affordable Care Act.”

“It’s a serious defeat for McConnell, and one that leaves deep bitterness among rank-and-file GOP senators, as moderates and conservatives blamed each other over who is at fault for the setback. It’s also a blow to McConnell’s reputation as a master legislator and raises doubts in the White House about what Senate Republicans can actually deliver for President Donald Trump. McConnell, like Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), finds himself caught between the factions in his own party. And like Ryan, McConnell hasn’t demonstrated that he knows how to resolve the dispute.”

Republicans Will Now Push for Straight Repeal

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) pledged to bring up a straight repeal of most of the Affordable Care Act as the next step now that the Senate health care bill appears to be dead.

Said McConnell: “Regretfully, it is now apparent that the effort to repeal and immediately replace the failure of Obamacare will not be successful.”

The new bill will be based on the repeal bill Congress passed in 2015, which then-President Obama vetoed.

Secrecy Backfires on McConnell

James Hohmann: “Mitch McConnell miscalculated. The Senate majority leader believed that the blowback for keeping his health-care bill secret would be less than the blowback for negotiating it in public.”

“But the Kentuckian misread the degree to which members of his own conference wanted a seat at the table. With little margin for error, he also had too much confidence in his ability to hammer out a compromise that could win over both hardliners who want full repeal and moderates who want to protect Medicaid expansion…”

“Another consequence of the secretive process is that almost no Republican senators have been out there trying to sell the bill – to the public or to each other. Dozens of GOP lawmakers who privately planned to vote for the motion to proceed today made a public show of saying that they were undecided and still studying the proposal. They avoided local reporters and put out opaque statements that gave themselves plenty of wiggle room, as they waited to see how things shook out. This meant that almost no Republicans put out statements defending the measure on Monday night when the Congressional Budget Office announced that millions of fewer Americans would have insurance if it passes. That ensured one-sided coverage in the press, which in turn made it even harder for members to justify supporting the bill.”

McConnell Said Attacks on Heller Were ‘Beyond Stupid’

New York Times: “The majority leader — already rankled by Mr. Trump’s tweets goading him to change Senate rules to scuttle Democratic filibusters — called the White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus, to complain that the attacks were ‘beyond stupid,’ according to two Republicans with knowledge of the tense exchange.”

“Mr. McConnell, who has been toiling for weeks, mostly in private, to put together a measure that would satisfy hard-liners and moderates, told Mr. Priebus in his call that the assault by the group, America First, not only jeopardized the bill’s prospects but also imperiled Mr. Heller’s already difficult path to re-election.”

McConnell Warns of Health Bill Failure

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) “is delivering an urgent warning to staffers, Republican senators and even the president himself: If Obamacare repeal fails this week, the GOP will lose all leverage and be forced to work with Chuck Schumer,” Politico reports.

“McConnell delivered a similar warning Monday to Republican senators at his leadership meeting and to top GOP staffers, warning that Democrats will want to retain as much of Obamacare as possible in a bipartisan negotiation, according to Republican aides.”

Inside McConnell’s Plan to Repeal Obamacare

Politico: “Right now, McConnell is far from having a commitment for the 50 votes needed for passage, according to senators who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal politics of the 52-member caucus. But no one on Capitol Hill seems to be betting against the wily majority leader as he plans for one of the most critical roll call votes of his career next week.”

“McConnell’s strategy has been a slow burn, allowing his members to vent in private party discussions while gradually writing a bill that takes in their considerations over the past six weeks. He’s had more than 30 meetings with his members about taking down the 2010 health law, intended to give his members more input and get them comfortable with the product.”

James Hohmann: “McConnell can only afford two defections, and he’s facing objections from the right and the middle. But if anyone can thread this needle, it’s the Senate majority leader.”

McConnell Still Doesn’t See Path for Obamacare Repeal

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told Reuters that he “has yet to hit upon a formula for repealing Obamacare and replacing it with a new healthcare program.”

Said McConnell: “I don’t know how we get to 50 votes at the moment. But that’s the goal.”

He declined to provide any timetable for producing even a draft bill to show to rank-and-file Republican senators and gauge their support.

McConnell Rejects Call for Special Prosecutor

“Before President Trump was even sworn into office, congressional Republicans made a pledge: They would be a check on executive power, they said, often making the independence of the legislative branch a centerpiece of their own election campaigns last year,” the New York Times reports.

“But on Wednesday, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and the majority leader, sought to give the beleaguered administration significant cover, strongly defending the firing of the F.B.I. director, James Comey, and resisting calls to challenge Mr. Trump and support a broader inquiry of Russian interference in the election.”

Politico: “After a flurry of GOP statements Tuesday night criticizing Trump for axing Comey so suddenly, there were no new Republican calls on Wednesday for a special prosecutor or select committee to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections or possible collusion with the Trump campaign.”

Schumer Headed for Epic Clash with McConnell

Politico: “At their first sit-down as party leaders in December, Chuck Schumer pledged to tell Mitch McConnell exactly what’s on his mind going forward — no subterfuge or backbiting. ‘You and Harry didn’t get along,’ Schumer recalled saying, referring to his predecessor, Harry Reid. ‘Each of you thought the other was a liar. But I’ve learned in life if people think people are liars, sometimes they misconceive things when they don’t know the whole story.’ Schumer went on: ‘Mitch, I’m from Brooklyn. I will tell you what I think. Sometimes you’ll like it, sometimes you won’t. But I’m not going to try to surprise you.’ Schumer wasn’t kidding about laying it all out in the open.”

“The Democratic leader is now predicting victory over McConnell in two partisan confrontations about to come to a head, over the Supreme Court vacancy and a potential government shutdown. Never mind that the Democratic Party is in its weakest state in more than a decade.”

Is McConnell’s Plan to Lose Fast?

Jonathan Chait: “Trumpcare may or may not grind out enough votes to pass the House. In the Senate, it’s hopelessly short of the 50 votes it needs. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has laid out a wildly aggressive time frame, under which his chamber would essentially xerox the House bill and pass it into law within a few days — no hearings, no negotiations. A few weeks ago, I suggested the possibility that McConnell’s plan was not wildly aggressive but actually designed to fail. His latest comments make this scenario seem far more likely.”

Said McConnell: “We’re not slowing down. We will reach a conclusion on health care next week. We’ll either pass something that will achieve a goal that we’ve been working on. Or not.”

“The only possible way a health-care bill could pass the Senate would be a heroic feat of negotiation to bridge the chasm between Republicans who think the House bill provides too much care (Mike Lee, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz) and those who think it provides too little (a group numbering perhaps as many as a dozen, depending on how one interprets various fretting remarks). Republicans can lose no more than two votes in the upper chamber.”