Republicans have cancelled a vote this week on a health care bill co-sponsored by Senators Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy, and effectively bringing an end to the party’s efforts to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act until 2018.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced the decision Tuesday, less than a day after Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) joined John McCain (R-AZ) and Rand Paul (R-KY) as Republican “no” votes against the bill that would repeal Obamacare, effectively ensuring that Republicans could not reach the 50 vote-threshold needed to pass the bill.
Republicans needed all three senators because, as with their previous failed Obamacare-repeal bills, they have been attempting to pass Graham-Cassidy through budget reconciliation instead of the normal legislative process. Reconciliation allows expedited passage of certain budgetary bills, including the federal debt ceiling and other spending measures, with limited debate and no filibustering. As a result, only a simple majority of 51 is needed. Republicans could have passed Graham-Cassidy if just 50-senators voted yes, because Vice President Mike Pence would cast the tie-breaking vote.
Collins’ decision led to a thank-you tweet from Jimmy Kimmel, who has become an outspoken critic of the legislation.
“We haven’t given up on changing the American health care system,” said McConnell. “We are not going to be able to do that this week, but it still lies ahead of us, and we haven’t given up on that.”
Kimmel previously hailed McCain as a “hero” for announcing that he will not vote for the bill.
The late-night host has been an outspoken critic of the legislation in recent days, saying that Sen. Bill Cassidy lied to him about his health care plans during a previous visit to “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”
Kimmel became part of the health care debate earlier this year when he announced that his newborn son, Billy, had undergone open-heart surgery, leading the ABC personality to emphasize the importance of accessible medical treatment.