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In blow to Trump, Senate rejects Obamacare repeal

U.S Senate rejects Obamacare repeal

A long night of suspense and drama in the U.S Senate ended early morning on Friday with senior Republican Senator John McCain breaking ranks with his party colleagues and President Donald Trump in casting a crucial vote that stalled the repeal of the existing health care system in the country, popularly known as the Obamacare.

The Senate voted 51 to 49 against the repeal legislation, secretly drafted by the Republican leadership without public hearings or any debate within or with Democratic senators. Republican Senators Susan Collins from Maine and Lisa Murkowski from Alaska had already declared that they would vote against the move, making Mr. McCain’s vote decisive. Republicans have a narrow 52-48 majority in the Senate.

Mr. McCain, who traveled from Arizona immediately after a surgery to remove a brain tumor last week, walked into the chamber at 1.29 am Friday, and voted ‘no’ with a thumbs down sign. “3 Republicans and 48 Democrats let the American people down. As I said from the beginning, let ObamaCare implode, then deal. Watch!” Mr. Trump posted on Twitter.

The Republican push to dismantle Obamacare involves provisions that aim to cut down or eliminate state support for medial care for the aged and the financially weaker sections and undermining the method of healthy, younger cohort contributing to the kitty to keep care affordable for the aged and the sick. Republicans sought to end the ‘mandates’ or the provision that makes it mandatory for all to buy insurance. The Republican argument has been that these measures will increase choice and market competition and reduce premiums. Critics have pointed out that these proposals will lead to millions of uninsured people and a dramatic increase in premiums for people who are old or sick. It has been estimated that 15 million more people would be uninsured next year, and 16 million more in 2026, if the Republican proposals were to be passed.

Before Mr. McCain voted, Vice President Mike Pence was seen talking to him for more than 20 minutes on the floor of the Senate chamber. He then went out to take a phone call, reportedly from Mr. Trump. He returned to the chamber within minutes and voted ‘no.’

The Republican leadership and the White House brought immense pressure on Senators to fall in line. Mr. McCain’s negative vote was also intended to give cover to many other Senators who cannot withstand the ire of the President, according to reports quoting Congressional sources. The women Senators withstood pressure from White House and male colleagues championing repeal, arguing that it will lead to denial of medical access to many.

In a statement issued after the vote, Mr.McCain called for bipartisan deliberations in the Senate. "From the beginning, I have believed that Obamacare should be repealed and replaced with a solution that increases competition, lowers costs, and improves care for the American people. The so-called 'skinny repeal' amendment the Senate voted on today would not accomplish those goals. While the amendment would have repealed some of Obamacare's most burdensome regulations, it offered no replacement to actually reform our health care system and deliver affordable, quality health care to our citizens,” he said. He called upon the Republican leadership to "return to the correct way of legislating and send the bill back to committee, hold hearings, receive input from both sides of aisle, heed the recommendations of nation's governors, and produce a bill that finally delivers affordable health care for the American people.”

Senate Majority leader Mitch McConell and minority leader Chuck Schumer appeared to agree that they need to work together than at cross purposes. "We look forward to our colleagues on the other side suggesting what they have in mind," McConnell said in the statement after describing the defeat of the legislation “disappointing.” “All of us were so inspired by the speech and the life of the senator from Arizona. And he asked us to go back to regular order, to bring back the Senate that some of us who've been here a while remember..Maybe this can be a moment where we start doing that," Mr. Schumer said.

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Printable version | Aug 6, 2020 7:24:09 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/in-blow-to-trump-senate-rejects-obamacare-repeal/article19380450.ece

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