The Republican drive to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as quickly as possible may have hit a speedbump. Over the past week, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) urged the Republican majority in Congress to only repeal ACA when a replacement is ready, and, according to Politico, President-elect Donald Trump agrees that this is the best course of action.
In the article, Paul explained that the president-elect called him after seeing an interview that the Kentucky senator had done on how the Senate should vote on healthcare replacement legislation at the same time as repealing ACA. Trump, he said, “was in complete agreement with that.”
As a new congressional session opened, it did not take very long for the Republican-led Senate to take the first steps toward repealing President Obama’s signature healthcare law. On January 4, the Senate voted 51–48, mostly along party lines, on a procedural motion to begin debate on a budget resolution to overhaul the healthcare law, as reported by CNN.com.
The only GOP senator to not vote along party lines was Paul, who joined Democrats in opposing the motion. A Paul spokesman told CNN that he did not support the bill because it doesn’t balance the underlying budget. The Senate meanwhile went to work debating the budget measure, which creates the framework to repeal a bulk of ACA with a separate budget reconciliation bill.
But now, with President-elect Trump offering his support for Paul’s approach, it looks as if the GOP’s plan for an immediate vote to gut the healthcare law may have been upended, Politico speculated. Moreover, upon hearing of Trump’s support, other Senate Republicans jumped on board with Paul, calling for a new strategy, the article noted.
But repealing and replacing ACA concurrently may pose a problem. The Associated Press noted that under “arcane budget rules” in the Senate, Republicans would have the numbers necessary to repeal ACA without any Democratic votes, but they would need Democratic votes to pass any replacement bill. House Speaker Paul Ryan said that Republicans may try to skirt this obstacle by passing some components of a replacement bill using fast-track Senate rules, the article said.
For his part, Sen. Paul told Politico that he wasn’t trying to slow the process down, but instead said it’s a “matter of speeding up” the replacement efforts. He is creating an initial healthcare proposal and will send it to Trump’s administration after getting buy-in from the president-elect.