Ever since the new, Republican-controlled Congress took control in 2017, they’ve been making major moves to overhaul legislation from the Obama presidency. Just five days into the year, they began the process of dumping Obamacare.
On Thursday, The New York Times reported that Senate Republicans approved a budget blueprint that would give the majority party the power to repeal major sections of the Affordable Care Act, without the possibility of a Democratic filibuster.
“The Obamacare bridge is collapsing, and we’re sending in a rescue team,” said Senator Michael B. Enzi, Republican of Wyoming and the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, to the Times.“Then we’ll build new bridges to better health care, and finally, when these new bridges are finished, we’ll close the old bridge.”
The 51-48 vote, divided starkly across party lines, was marked by an unusual protest by Democrats during roll call. As each stood up, they each voiced their fears and objections to the dumping of the ACA. As Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon said, “Health care should not just be for the healthy and wealthy.”
“I think it's important for this country to know this was not a usual thing, this is a day which lays the groundwork for 30 million people to be thrown off their health insurance," Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders told CNN. "And if that happens, many of these people will die."
"We wanted to say no matter how late, we're going to stay and fight and represent our constituents,” said Minority Leader Senator Chuck Schumer. “There are so many constituencies who will be hurt by this repeal without a replace.”
The budget blueprint will soon move to the House, which could vote on it by the end of the week.
Congrats to the Senate for taking the first step to #RepealObamacare- now it's onto the House!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 12, 2017
During a news conference on Wednesday in New York City, Trump vowed to repeal Obamacare as soon as his nominee for Health and Human Services secretary, Tom Price, is approved. Price has introduced detailed plans in every Congress since 2009 to replace the Affordable Care Act, according to the Times.
"We're going to be submitting, as soon as our secretary's approved, almost simultaneously, shortly thereafter, a plan. It'll be repeal and replace. It will be essentially simultaneously," Trump said during the conference. "Probably the same day, could be the same hour."
With the path to the repeal of Obamacare clear, CNN reports that we can expect a vote on a budget reconciliation bill to happen around February or March. With that will likely come the repeal of major portions of Obamacare.
“This is our opportunity to keep our campaign promise,” said Senator Roger Wicker, Republican of Mississippi, according to the Times. “This is our opportunity to help the president-elect and the vice president-elect keep their campaign promises and show to the American people that elections have consequences.”