They could hardly do any worse than Senate Republicans in dealing with ObamaCare, right? Well … maaaaaayyyyyyyybeeee. Senator and former West Virginia governor Joe Manchin wants to leverage the experience and executive skills for former governors within the upper chamber to craft a bipartisan approach to health-care reform, but with one predicate. Manchin tells Bloomberg that repeal of ObamaCare will be off the table, having proven impossible even when Republicans could have passed it on a party-line vote:
Manchin also took his case to Fox News, where he had to know it would get a somewhat less-enthusiastic response. Unlike legislators, governors have to consider pragmatic implications of reform bills and legislative changes. Rather than seeing themselves as members within a party apparatus, as House and Senate members do, Manchin argues that governors see themselves as executives first and ideologues second:
“We didn’t look at each other as Democrats and Republicans,” he said about his time serving on the National Governors Association. “We looked at each other as executives.”
Together, they understood the challenges of the states and reaching a consensus, he added.
Now is the perfect time for that bipartisan spirit, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell conceded Monday night that the GOP will not be able to follow through on their initial plan to immediately repeal and replace President Obama’s health care legislation. Instead, they will hold a vote to repeal Obamacare over the next two years.
“Let’s fix it” are the ‘magic words,’ Manchin said.
Those aren’t the magic words that will unlock Republican cooperation, whether it involves Senators with gubernatorial experience or not. This could be read as a slap at Rand Paul, Mike Lee, and Ted Cruz for pushing repeal-first or repeal-only plans, but the real pushback on those efforts came from the non-gubernatorial ranks within the Senate GOP: Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Rob Portman, Jerry Moran, and to a certain extent Ron Johnson on other concerns. Former Republican governors like John Hoeven and Lamar Alexander (both of whom get a shout-out from Manchin) have stayed mainly in the background during the BCRA debate, and seemed ready to follow Mitch McConnell’s lead.
Democrats may have more opportunities to pick off Republicans regardless of their executive experience. Molly Ball writes that Republicans on Capitol Hill have begun finger-pointing at each other, but that the White House has not been the target of their internecine ire:
The House is mad at the Senate. The Senate is mad at the House. Various factions in the House and Senate are mad at each other or mad at their leaders.
Republican lawmakers have yet to turn on President Trump in any meaningful way. But they’re starting to turn on each other. …
“We’re in charge, right? We have the House, the Senate, and the White House,” one GOP member of Congress told me. “Everyone’s still committed to making progress on big issues, but the more time goes by, the more difficult that becomes. And then the blame game starts.”
Before Republicans come around to the “fix it” position on ObamaCare, they’ll need to “fix it” among themselves. The BCRA debacle was a clear demonstration of those problems.