Donald Trump insisted this weekend that the ObamaCare repeal effort was too legit to quit, and tried hammering Republicans on Twitter into going back to the drawing board. The president urged Mitch McConnell to undo the legislative filibuster, a proposal that wouldn’t get 40 votes in the Senate even if McConnell supported the idea, which he has repeatedly rejected, but also to try again to get to 51 on reconciliation. Trump called them “quitters” if they didn’t finish the job:
Unless the Republican Senators are total quitters, Repeal & Replace is not dead! Demand another vote before voting on any other bill!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 29, 2017
Don't give up Republican Senators, the World is watching: Repeal & Replace…and go to 51 votes (nuke option), get Cross State Lines & more.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 30, 2017
Thus far, Senate Republicans aren’t taking the bait. The Hill reports today that there is very little appetite for returning to the dead-end negotiations that resulted in an embarrassing flop on Friday for a shell bill that kicked the can down the road:
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) warned reporters Monday not to “leap to conclusions” that Republicans won’t be able to pass a healthcare bill, but appeared to hint that a second vote isn’t imminent.
“What we do know is next is nominations and hopefully Sen. [Charles] Schumer will agree to break the logjam … and that would be a good use of our next two weeks,” the No. 2 Senate Republican said.
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), another member of Senate GOP leadership, said Republicans could circle back to healthcare when they reach a consensus. Until then, “it’s time to move on” and put “wins on the board,” he said.
“Obviously we didn’t give up and we didn’t quit and we gave it our best shot, and we can come back to this at a later time,” Blunt said, asked about Trump’s tweets.
Really? What “later time” would that be? It can’t be next year, with an election on the line. Maybe Blunt hopes to return to it in 2019, when Republicans may have more seats in the Senate, but the debacle last week might mean the GOP’s House majority is at risk. Voters expected Republicans to fulfill their seven-year promise to repeal ObamaCare when they took control of Washington, only to discover that Republicans never had a plan to do so nor seem inclined to take away benefits that have been offered for four years now.
Rather than return to the failure of ObamaCare, Republicans want to work on other parts of their agenda in order to get a few Ws on the board, as Blunt put it. The Washington Post noted that a plea from Mick Mulvaney didn’t have any impact on that strategy either, but did get a snide response from Cornyn:
McConnell did not address health care in his remarks opening Senate business on Monday afternoon. His top deputy, Sen. John Cornyn (Tex.), brushed back comments White House budget director Mick Mulvaney made on CNN on Sunday urging Republicans not to vote on anything else until voting on health care again.
“I don’t think [Mulvaney’s] got much experience in the Senate, as I recall,” said Cornyn as he made his way into the Senate chamber. “And he’s got a big job. He ought to do that job and let us do our job.”
As shameful as the failure to take action on ObamaCare might be, it doesn’t make much sense in spinning wheels on it indefinitely. There is no path to 51 in this current Senate, not with the components of health-care reform that were put on the table, almost none of which amounted to a full repeal-and-replace plan anyway. (Full repeal got a grand total of 43 votes when offered in the vote-a-rama last week.) Congress has other pressing issues to handle, including the Trump/GOP economic agenda, which has been stalled out behind the ObamaCare repeal effort.
A few wins on the board would be nice, assuming Republicans can agree on anything. But those won’t erase the abject failure of the ObamaCare repeal effort, nor hide the fact that the GOP spent the last four years repeatedly overselling it when they knew, or at least should have known, that they couldn’t deliver on it. Don’t expect voters to turn out enthusiastically for the party that pulled the wool over their eyes, no matter how many minor Ws its leadership may claim by the midterms. If Republicans want to feel their power, they’d better either own up to their failures or fix them forthwith.