Here we go again.
For what feels like the 1,000th time this year, the Republican Senate is looking to ram through a hugely consequential health care bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act and “replace” it with … a lot less.
The GOP Congress only has until Sept. 30 to advance health care legislation with a bare majority in the Senate, because that is when the special procedural rules enabling them to avoid a Democratic filibuster expire. That deadline seems to be motivating Republicans to line up behind a bill sponsored by Republican Sens. Bill Cassidy (La.) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.). This could mean a vote next week.
That’s despite the fact that this legislation has never been the subject of a public debate or the normal congressional committee process. The Congressional Budget Office also won’t have time to analyze how many people would have health insurance as a result of the bill, or how much the premiums would cost.
In other words, Congress would be passing a bill with major ramifications for many millions of people without first finding out exactly what it does.
And because the Senate has weird rules, the Cassidy-Graham legislation could go straight to a vote after just two minutes of debate or less. Yes, two minutes ― that’s not a typo.
If the stakes weren’t so high and the weren’t politics so cynical, it might be amusing to watch Senate Republicans act out the old saying that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
Could they really get a different result? It’s possible. There’s been a lot of noise in the past week about how Cassidy and Graham almost have the votes and just need to flip one or two of the holdouts from last time. (They only need 50 votes because Vice President Mike Pence can cast a tie-breaking vote in his constitutional capacity as president of the Senate.)
Cassidy and Graham have been buttonholing their colleagues for months and have exuded such confidence in public that they have, at the very least, convinced the Washington press corps that the repeal is very, very close. They’ve also managed to persuade Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and President Donald Trump to lend a hand after a period in which McConnell especially didn’t want to be anywhere near the health care issue. At a minimum, Cassidy and Graham have created the perception that they have momentum.
All of this has got Republicans pretty excited and has spurred Senate…