On Thursday evening, mere hours before the Senate is supposed to vote on a health care bill, the United States Capitol is in chaos.
This is what we actually know:
- Senate Republicans have still not released the actual text of whatever they will vote on at the end of their debate, probably Friday morning.
- Many Republican senators don’t want their bill, whatever it is, to actually become law. But they might still vote for it, because they want to pass some bill, any bill, and then open up negotiations with the House on a bigger health care package.
- There are rampant if unverifiable rumors that House Republicans are prepared to pass whatever the Senate sends them, perhaps as soon as Friday,
- Some senators are threatening not to vote for their own health care bill unless House Republicans assure them that they will not pass the Senate bill.
The real story is that Republicans, after seven years of promising to repeal and replace Obamacare, are unable to come up with a plan to actually do that, and it has come crashing down on them at the finish line. The Senate is hours away from voting on a bill, without knowing what it is or whether it could become federal law in a matter of hours.
One congressional staffer sent me an email with the subject line: “This is insane.”
The House and the Senate are now locked in an absurd game of chicken, right before a pivotal vote in the Senate, each side wary the other is about to betray them. It is grand political theater, except health insurance for millions of Americans are at stake.
Senate Republicans don’t want the House to pass their health care bill
One thing has become clear: Senate Republicans don’t actually have a plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. They don’t even, right now, have a bill. Now they are trying to come up with some bill — dubbed the “skinny repeal” bill — that can get 50 votes.
As outlined, it would eliminate the penalty for Obamacare’s individual mandate, possibly along with its…