Steve's Blog

Will the Republican Healthcare Bill Finally Get Passed?

First, a little history. The Continental Congress passed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776 (we celebrated the 241st anniversary of that glorious event just last week – The Fourth of July.) Then a long and grueling war was fought between the most powerful army and navy the world had ever known, and 13 upstart colonies (the colonies won.) Then after about eight rather unsatisfactory years under the Articles of Confederation, the U.S. Constitution was ratified, and the United States of America as we know it came into existence.

The First Congress had to make a number of important decisions, right out of the box – one of those being where to locate the new nation’s capital. After strenuous debate, and compromise (and yes some deal-making) they settled on a spot on the Potomac River, specifically the current location of Washington, D.C.

But there was a problem (actually there were many.) But one in particular was that the land chosen was a swamp – literally. (In full disclosure, the Washington Post recently published an article disputing whether Washington was actually built on swampland. But whether that’s just more fake news or not is anybody’s guess.) Anyway, in the summer, particularly in August, it was hot – very hot. Perfect for mosquitos – and mosquito-bearing diseases like yellow fever and malaria. So Congress decided that it would rather be anywhere in August other than in Washington, so since the earliest days of our nation, the United States Congress has not been in session in August. Again, in full disclosure, this practice was set in the days before the invention of air conditioning (around 1902) so the practice could, and many would argue should, be ended.

Okay, that brings me to the main point of this week’s blog – are Republicans going to be able to finally get a repeal and replacement of Obamacare bill to President Trump’s desk? Well, including this week, Congress has three weeks in session in Washington before it will begin its traditional August break. The House already passed its version of the Obamacare repeal and replacement more than two months back (on May 4th.) Now it’s the Senate’s turn. Thus far they’ve been unsuccessful in threading the needle necessary to get 50 out of the 52 Republican Senators on the same page (they’ll get no Democrat votes – only Democrat criticism.)

And just yesterday, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell just made a big announcement. He’s decided to forgo the first two weeks of the Senate’s August recess, and keep the Senate in Washington to make a last-ditch effort to pass the repeal and replacement of Obamacare. (The Senate is also way behind in confirming President Trump’s appointments to various positions within the federal government, as Democrats have been obstructing and dragging out the process at every opportunity.)

At the point that the Senate Republicans finally iron out their differences, and pass a healthcare bill, the House can be called back into session with probably 48 or 72 hours notice. That should give House Members sufficient time to get back to Washington from their home districts or from wherever they are. Assuming that the Senate and House bills are not identical, negotiations will begin immediately, and Congress will stay in session until differences are ironed out, and the House and Senate pass identical bills which will then be sent to President Trump’s desk for his signature. Thus Republicans will have met their commitment to repeal and replace Obamacare, and members of both bodies can then head back to their districts until Congress goes back into session in September.

Now it goes without saying that the final bill must be a good one – one which is in the best interests of the vast majority of Americans. One that over time reduces premiums; takes decisions away from the bureaucrats in Washington and gives it back to doctors and patients; covers preexisting conditions; ends coercive mandates on people; allows young people to remain on their parents’ health insurance until 26 years of age, etc. I’ve covered these things extensively in the past, so suffice it to say that the Republican repeal and replacement plan must be far more worthy of the American people than Obamacare is, which none other than Bill Clinton called “the craziest thing in the world… you pay twice as much, and get half the coverage.”

Anyway, I’m cautiously optimistic that Mitch McConnell’s plan to get the Senate to finally act on Obamacare will work. But only time will tell.

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