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GOP Senators threaten to blow up Trumpcare unless they are given an unconstitutional guarantee

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Everything about this process is shocking.

CREDIT: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Sens. Lindsay Graham (R-SC), John McCain (R-AZ), and Ron Johnson (R-WI) held an odd press conference Thursday evening where they announced that they will vote for the latest gambit to advance Trumpcare, but only if they can be sure that the bill they vote for does not become law.

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To explain, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) latest scheme is to get his caucus to pass a bill that would repeal a few provisions of the Affordable Care Act, collapse many health insurance markets, and strip 16 million people of health insurance. Many Republican senators do not want this latest scheme, known as “skinny repeal” to become law. As Graham put it, skinny repeal is “the worst possible outcome” because it “would destroy the insurance markets.”

Senate Republican leaders, meanwhile, have tried to convince their colleagues to back skinny repeal anyway, on the theory that a vote for skinny repeal would allow the Senate to confer with the House to draft a final Trumpcare bill that people like Graham may like better. But there’s a significant problem with this plan.

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Basically, as Republican leaders in the Senate were reassuring senators that skinny repeal would never become law, Republican leaders in the House appear to be taking steps to quickly pass skinny repeal so that it can become law.

For now, at least, Graham, McCain, and Johnson say they aren’t willing to take that risk, with Johnson seeking a “guarantee” that the House won’t pass skinny repeal if he votes for it.

Here’s the problem: the Constitution provides that any bill that has “passed the House of Representatives and the Senate” shall be presented to the president, and if the president signed it, it becomes law. Once the Senate passes a bill, in other words, there is literally nothing it can do to tie the hands of the House or the president. The bill has still passed, and so the Senate’s role in the lawmaking process has come to completion.

A real guarantee that skinny repeal will not pass the House, as opposed to an empty promise that can be broken immediately, is unconstitutional.


GOP Senators threaten to blow up Trumpcare unless they are given an unconstitutional guarantee was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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