The Graham-Cassidy bill, the last-ditch Senate effort to repeal Obamacare, took a potentially fatal body blow today when Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) announced that he would vote no on the legislation.
At an appearance at the Texas Tribune Festival, Cruz said:
“Right now, they don’t have my vote….I want to be a yes, I want to get there because I believe Obamacare is a disaster, but the price to getting there, I believe, is focusing on consumer freedom.”
The right-wing Texas Senator’s sudden change of heart was astonishing to political observers since he has voted positively on every other Republican attempt to abolish Obamacare.
While the current bill has not yet received a score from the Congressional Budget Office, it is believed to be in many ways worse than the previous bills in its financial impact on patients and on their access to healthcare regardless of pre-existing conditions. Still, the vast majority of Republicans in the Senate seem to regard those facts as a small inconvenience compared to the one last chance that they have before the end of the month deadline to pass a bill that will make their wealthy donors happy through a simple majority due to the Senate budget reconciliation rules.
Cruz also said that he believed that his colleague Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) would be voting against the bill, although Senator Lee has yet to make any official comment on the matter.
Opponents of the Graham-Cassidy bill, knowing the political machinations that can happen behind the scenes when a political leadership desperate for a win at any cost pulls out the stops, caution against holding any premature celebrations quite yet. Senators can change their votes, even after announcing opposition, and new amendments aimed at convincing recalcitrant Republican stragglers to switch sides can always be added at the last minute. No one can truly say this latest attempt to cut taxes for the rich at the expense of ordinary Americans’ health care is dead until a vote is taken or the clock strikes midnight at the end of the day on September 30th.
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