Doom for repeal: Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski won't proceed on a bill unless it includes replacement for ObamaCare; Update: Vote coming?

Put ’em together with Shelley Moore Capito’s “no” vote this morning and that’s three against clean repeal. McConnell, of course, can only afford to lose two.

Which means it’s on to Plan C. From Collins’s statement:

“I will vote no on the motion to proceed to repeal the Affordable Care Act without a replacement. I voted against this same proposal in 2015.

“I do not think that it’s constructive to repeal a law that is so interwoven within our health care system without having a replacement plan in place. We can’t just hope that we will pass a replacement within the next two years. Repealing without a replacement would create great uncertainty for individuals who rely on the ACA and cause further turmoil in the insurance markets.

It’s true, Collins did vote against clean repeal two years ago, one of only two Republican senators to do so. (The other is now retired Mark Kirk.) Lisa Murkowski ducks the issue of her previous votes, not surprisingly, in issuing her own statement today:

“As I’ve been saying, the Senate should take a step back and engage in a bipartisan process to address the failures of the ACA and stabilize the individual markets. That will require members on both sides of the aisle to roll up their sleeves and take this to the open committee process where it belongs.

“The individual market in states like Alaska and in rural communities across America has continued to deteriorate since we last voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Alaskans have seen their premiums increase over 200 percent, only one insurer remains on our individual market, and the state was forced to enact a costly reinsurance program to keep our sole remaining provider from leaving.”

“At the same time, the coverage offered on the exchange has become coverage in name only for too many Alaskans with premiums close to $1,000 a month on average and many facing deductibles approaching $10,000. Repealing the ACA without a clear path forward just creates confusion and greater uncertainty.”

“As I stated earlier this year, I cannot vote to proceed to repeal the ACA without reform that allows people the choice they want, the affordability they need and the quality of care they deserve.”

I guess there’s something of a rationalization there. They can’t cleanly repeal ObamaCare now because the exchanges are too unstable; Congress needs to shore them up and provide a replacement system. Whereas in 2015, when the exchanges were a bit sturdier, it would have been … okay to blow them up entirely? What?

If McConnell has suffered a worse fiasco in his time as leader, I can’t remember what it was. He wrote the bill, he failed to put a coalition together (admittedly an almost impossible task in this case), and, if you believe Ron Johnson, he took to telling moderate Republicans privately that it was safe to vote for Medicaid cuts since they would never go into effect. How much did that piss Johnson off? Ahem:

Is McConnell still planning to force a vote on clean repeal knowing that he doesn’t have the votes to pass it and knowing that that’ll cause all sorts of political pain for different reasons for different elements in his caucus? That would be un-Mitch-like, but maybe McConnell’s ready for a little revenge on the Republicans who embarrassed him.

Here’s Trump at the White House today, on camera, saying repeatedly that it’s time to “let ObamaCare fail” because that’ll force the parties to make a deal. “We’re not going to own it,” he says of O-Care’s possible collapse. “Republicans are not going to own it.” Is that right? He’s betting the party’s majorities in both chambers of Congress on voters agreeing with him instead of holding the GOP responsible for not fixing the law when it enjoyed total control of government. My prediction: The GOP will pass nothing for the next 15 months and will run on a pure “the media sucks” message in the midterms, and … they’ll end up picking up three or four seats.

Update: Looks like McConnell’s going to make the caucus own this one: