Of all of the pressing issues facing the country, Republicans in the U.S. Senate have focused on one issue that is most important to them. They are asking that the new U.S. senator appointed by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey help them by supporting legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as the ACA, or Obamacare.
If there was any doubt as to the priorities of the GOP Congress, comments made by several senators after John McCain passed away have dispelled those doubts.
In an election year when healthcare concerns are shown to be the top issue on the minds of voters, Republicans have decided to intensify their efforts to do away with the law that extended health insurance and Medicaid coverage to nearly 40 million uninsured Americans.
Several senate Republicans have told Ducey they want him to appoint a successor to McCain who will not do what he did in supporting Obamacare. Last year it was McCain who cast the deciding vote in the senate to avoid repealing the increasingly popular healthcare law.
GOP lawmakers admit they don’t have the time this year to have another vote to repeal the law, but have promised to try again next year if they are able to keep their Senate and House majorities.
In fact, they are appealing to voters on this very issue, saying that if Republicans stay in power they will get rid of the law which they hate so much. Since Obamacare is more popular than ever, it is doubtful that using its repeal as a major campaign issue will lead to electoral success.
But yet, they are undaunted.
“If we re-engage in that discussion in some point in the future, it would be nice to have members who enable us to pass it,” Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Thune (S.D.) said when asked about repealing ObamaCare in the next Congress.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said he hopes the next senator from Arizona will be a “strong ally” who “recognizes that ObamaCare is not a proper solution.”
“It hasn’t worked, it’s created a lot of harm and damage to real people,” he added.
A senior Senate GOP aide said the chamber would “absolutely vote again to repeal ObamaCare if we keep the House.”
“McCain was personally conservative but ideologically inconsistent,” the aide said. “I think Ducey is going to pick someone more like himself. He’s a more reliable conservative.”
Republican senators also said they want the new Arizona senator to have a better working relationship with President Trump.
“I think it would serve a useful purpose to get along with the president,” Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) said. “By having a sincere appreciation, admiration and respect, you can get a lot more done than [by being] adversarial.”
“It’s hard to imagine Ducey could pick anyone more antagonistic,” quipped a GOP senator who asked to remain anonymous.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.