Nearly 5 months into Donald Trump’s Presidency, and Congress remains divided over a bill to repeal Obamacare, which was President Trump’s number one campaign promise. Holding 52 of 100 Senate seats, Republicans are trying to pass the bill using the budget process of reconciliation to avoid a Democratic filibuster.
Fearing the possibility that the bill may not pass the Senate, Republican leaders have focused their attention on appealing to the moderate members within the caucus. GOP Senators have already conceded several key issues, including the the continuation of several Obamacare taxes and prohibiting states from repealing a health insurance rule known as community rating, which protects those with pre-existing conditions. Other issues in question are Medicaid expansion and increased tax credits for low-income Americans to buy insurance.
So far, the approach of appeasing the Senate GOP moderates stands in stark contrast to the approach of the House last month, when House leaders relented on several key issues to appease the most conservative lawmakers in the House.
As the Senate continues negotiations, President Trump is urging lawmakers to begin work on other legislation such as infrastructure and tax reform. However, lawmakers are more divided. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell seeks to protect swing state Republican Senators whose seats are up in 2018. Many Republicans, including Senator John Thune of South Dakota, are concerned about the consequences if lawmakers are unable to make good on President Trump’s campaign promises in 2017.
For now, the Senate will continue its painstaking efforts on the American Health Care Act.