Latest Republican health bill ‘a porkfest, a monstrosity’, Rand Paul says

  • Kentucky senator says he will not vote for bill to proceed to debate this week
  • Rightwinger Paul wants clean repeal of Affordable Care Act

Rand Paul has helped to block Republican efforts to introduce a new health bill. Photograph: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Rand Paul, one of the conservative senators who has helped to hold up Republican healthcare reform, on Sunday derided the current Senate bill as a “monstrosity” and a “porkfest” and said he would not vote for it to proceed to debate this week.

With Donald Trump telling senators to stay in Washington until they have a replacement for Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA), majority leader Mitch McConnell is reportedly looking to hold a vote to proceed to debate as early as Tuesday.

McConnell must attempt to win over conservatives such as Paul, of Kentucky, Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah, who oppose government intervention in the insurance market.

Moderates such as Susan Collins of Maine have expressed opposition to the bill in terms of its $800bn cuts to Medicaid, the government programme that supports the young, elderly, poor and infirm.

“The real question is what are we moving to, what are we opening to debate to,” said Paul on CNN’s State of the Union. “Last week the Senate leadership said it would be a clean repeal, like the 2015 bill that we all voted for, and I think that’s a good idea.”

Obama vetoed the 2015 repeal, one of a succession of attempts by Republicans in Congress to bring down his signature legislative achievement.

Trump, eager for legislative success after six months in office without it, first said this week that the ACA should be repealed before a replacement was ready; then said it should simply be allowed to fail; then demanded a replacement at the same time as a repeal.

Paul continued: “The alternative is the Senate leadership bill that doesn’t repeal Obamacare, is Obamacare-lite and is loaded with pork, it’s become a porkfest where they’re dumping billions of dollars into pet projects for individual senators. I’m not for that.

“I’ve told them I will vote for a motion to proceed if we proceed to a clean repeal vote. If it fails they can put up their monstrosity that they want to put forward, but I’m not for that because I’m not for the taxpayer subsidising private industry.”

Speaking to CBS’s Face the Nation, Collins said uncertainty over what would be voted on this week was not “a good approach to facing legislation that…

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