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Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), accompanied by Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, speaks with reporters following the party luncheons on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 19, 2017.
Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters
It’s Ova

Senate Republicans Pull Their Last Obamacare Repeal Bill Before The Vote

Thus ends the latest chapter in a seven-year-long health care drama.

Andrew Desiderio9.26.17 2:10 PM ET

Senate Republican leaders decided on Tuesday to not hold a vote on a last-ditch attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare before a critical, end-of-the-month deadline, a GOP aide told The Daily Beast.

Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) had been pushing for a vote on their legislation that would block-grant federal funds to individual states, but the duo along with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) chose not to hold a vote because the bill lacked enough support.

"The decision was a joint one between Lindsey and Bill and the other two sponsors and also the leader that if the votes are not there, not to have the vote, but not to give up," said Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS). "We're going to try to do this in some form in this session of Congress."

The latest GOP effort suffered a major setback on Monday when Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) announced her opposition, joining fellow opponents Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Rand Paul (R-KY).

As recently as that evening, however, Graham believed that the Senate should vote on his bill. But McConnell apparently ended up determining that it wasn’t worth the bad optics to hold a vote that would fail, as he did back in July, when McCain dealt the death blow to separate repeal-and-replace legislation.

McConnell’s decision likely did not come as a surprise to his GOP colleagues, many of whom were pessimistic about the likelihood of a vote passing or even being held.

“Everybody knows that’s going to fail,” Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) told The Daily Beast on Monday. Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA), who was likely to vote for the bill despite expressing concerns last week, bemoaned the process by it had been written and considered. “I don’t even know what the bill looks like anymore,” he said. “I don’t even know what the bill says anymore. I have no idea what it says.”

The effort to pass Graham-Cassidy had been rushed in an attempt to secure a vote before the Senate’s budget reconciliation rules—a process by which Republicans could pass a health care bill with just 50 votes—expire on September 30. After that date, any legislation would need 60 votes.

Republicans will now look to pass another set of budget reconciliation rules to be able to consider health care reform again through a simple majority vote. But those rules won’t likely be written for another year or more.

In the meantime, McConnell’s decision to pull a vote on Graham-Cassidy is likely to produced fierce backlash from Trump-aligned conservatives who are frustrated with his leadership. Many blame McConnell—not Trump—for the fact that the president does not yet have a major legislative achievement under his belt. Though Trump himself had talked up the bill and encouraged its passage, a senior administration official told The Daily Beast that the president is “well prepared” to go after McConnell for the failure.

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