Reality Check w/ John Tracy: Murkowski holds out on Obamacare repeal
This was a good week for Senator Lisa Murkowski. First, she did not have to take the blame for killing the Senate’s healthcare bill. She stayed on the fence until four of her fellow Republicans announced they would vote no if it came to the floor.
Even after Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tried to buy her vote by tossing some extra money Alaska’s way in the bill, Murkowski would not commit. We’ll never know how she would have voted had the bill actually made it to the floor.
What we do know is that Lisa Murkowski stopped McConnell’s plan B when she became the third and deciding Republican to say she would not vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act without a replacement.
Doing so, she said, would only create more chaos and uncertainty for Alaskans fearful of losing their health coverage– including some 35,000 Alaskans who took advantage of Medicaid expansion.
“If you just say give us a couple of years to work this through and we’ll figure it out, I don’t think that is an acceptable answer I can provide to them,” Sen. Murkowski said.
Murkowski was joined by Susan Collins of Maine and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia. Three Republican women, none of whom were invited to participate in crafting the healthcare bill– even though half of those covered are women.
Murkowski’s now calling for Republicans to sit down with Democrats and address the failures of the Affordable Care Act through an open committee process. Smart and responsible.
So, predictably, she was criticized by party leaders for flip flopping, citing her vote in 2015 to repeal Obamacare without a replacement.
“I hope that the six times everyone voted to repeal Obamacare were not just for show,” said Tuckerman Babcock, chair of the Alaska Republican Party.
Well, of course, those votes were just for show. Republicans knew that President Obama would veto any repeal, so there were no consequences for playing politics with Obamacare. But, it’s not 2015 anymore, and Lisa Murkowski realizes that– even if her party and the President don’t.
Next week, Mitch McConnell is expected to force his fellow Republicans to vote up or down on repealing Obamacare without a replacement, and that’s a good thing. It’s supposed to be a test of party loyalty, but like every other miscalculation McConnell has made, it will really be a test of who your Senator puts first: the people or their party.
Lisa Murkowski made her choice, and Alaskans can thank her for that.
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