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Mitch McConnell punts on unpopular health care bill until after July recess

After running into steep opposition within his own party, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is delaying the Senate’s vote on the Better Care Act — the Republican Senate’s version of the Obamacare repeal bill — until after the July 4 recess.

News of the delay comes less than a day after the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office announced that 22 million Americans would be left without access to health insurance within a decade — which is only slightly better than the 23 million that the House health care bill would cause to be uninsured, according to an earlier CBO estimate.

Nothing about the budget office report did anything to reassure Senate Republicans, many of whom were already on the fence. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said on Monday she would be vote against even bringing the bill to the Senate floor. She was joined by Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada. With Republicans needing 50 sure “yes” votes in order for McConnell’s plan — a speedy and tidy reconciliation process — to go off without a hitch, the loss of two votes broughts the Kentucky Republican into dangerous territory.

Two other senators — Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Ron Johnson, R-Wisc. — have since said they would also vote against the bill, the New York Times reported Tuesday, meaning that McConnell faced certain defeat if he tried to force a vote this week. Several other Republican senators have reportedly been leaning toward a possible “no” vote for some time, including Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Rob Portman of Ohio.

There was more intra-party squabbling Tuesday. Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a 2016 presidential candidate, went to Washington and attacked the bill.

“Who would lose this coverage?” Kasich said, according to the Times. “The mentally ill, the drug addicted, the chronically ill. I believe these are people that need to have coverage.” To make matters worse, Kasich was joined by Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat. Together, the two of them gave the image of bipartisan opposition, as compared to McConnell’s go-it-alone strategy, which so far has proven a total failure.

Jeremy Binckes is the cover editor at Salon.com.

Jeremy Binckes.

Source: Salon: in-depth news, politics, business, technology & culture > Politics

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