Some GOP Senators, notably Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), have begun floating the notion that their support of the GOP tax bill — which will kick 13 million people off of their insurance, raise premiums by double digits for millions more and trigger a $25 billion cut to Medicare all to give a tax breaks to the wealthiest and corporations — is contingent on Alexander-Murray being signed into law. However, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found that pairing the Alexander-Murray bill with the repeal of the individual responsibility provision will still result in 13 million fewer people with coverage and double-digit premium increases. Moreover, it’s important to note who has expressed doubt this will happen: a lot of Republicans whose support is necessary for it to be signed into law.
House Republicans, from Speaker Paul Ryan on down, have voiced their opposition to Alexander-Murray. GOP Senators have expressed skepticism that Alexander-Murray could pass the House. And President Trump, who now claims to support it, previously opposed it, which he clarified after hinting at his support, which came after his initial opposition.
The tax bill might be voted on with a promise that Alexander-Murray will become law. Does that really seem like a promise that can be kept?
HOUSE REPUBLICANS HAVE VOICED OPPOSITION AT THE ALEXANDER-MURRAY BILL
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI): “The Speaker Does Not See Anything That Changes His View That The Senate Should Keep Its Focus On Repeal And Replace Of Obamacare.” “‘The speaker does not see anything that changes his view that the Senate should keep its focus on repeal and replace of Obamacare,’ Ryan spox Doug Andres says.” [Tweet, 10/18/17]
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC): CSRs Without Full Repeal “Pretty Much A Nonstarter.” “Still, some Republicans are skeptical of any bill that isn’t repeal. ‘It depends on what it is,’ said House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.). ‘The biggest thing I see with most of what they’re talking about is just extending … [subsidy] payments. And … [subsidy] payments without a transition to something that lowers premiums is pretty much a nonstarter.’” [Politico, 9/28/17]
Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC): “This Bailout Is Unacceptable.” “Rep. Mark Walker of North Carolina, chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee in the House, quickly denounced the deal over Twitter: ‘The GOP should focus on repealing & replacing Obamacare, not trying to save it. This bailout is unacceptable.’” [Associated Press, 10/17/17]
Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA): “No Way.” “Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA), a member of the hardline House Freedom Caucus, told The Daily Beast in a phone interview. ‘[Alexander-Murray], as it is? No way. It’s not even in the ballpark.’” [The Daily Beast, 10/19/17]
Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA): “Right Now It’s A Nonstarter.” “House conservatives appear united in opposition to the health care stabilization proposal crafted by Sens. Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray. ‘Right now it’s a nonstarter,’ House Freedom Caucus member Dave Brat said Tuesday during a Conversations with Conservatives press event.” [Roll Call, 10/24/17]
Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH), Scott Perry (R-PA), Mark Walker (R-NC), Matt Gaetz (R-FL): All Oppose Alexander-Murray Agreement. “Brat, Freedom Caucus members Jim Jordan and Scott Perry, Republican Study Committee Chairman Mark Walker and Rep. Matt Gaetz all spoke to their opposition to the bipartisan accord. One aspect of the plan that conservatives oppose is the funding of cost-sharing reduction subsidies that the federal government pays to insurance companies to keep costs down for low-income individuals.” [Roll Call, 10/24/17]
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH): “We Should Not Be Funding The CSRs.” “‘It is a problem,’ Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan said. ‘We should not be funding the CSRs.’” [Roll Call, 10/24/17]
Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC): “It’s An Insult For The Insurance Companies To Be Getting Subsidies.” “South Carolina Rep. Ralph Norman added: ‘It’s an insult for the insurance companies to be getting subsidies. It really is.’” [Roll Call, 10/24/17]
EVEN REPUBLICAN SENATORS HAVE EXPRESSED SKEPTICISM THAT THE ALEXANDER-MURRAY BILL COULD PASS THE HOUSE
Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA): Alexander-Murray “Will Not Pass Unless Concerns Of The House Are Addressed.” “However, we recognize this short-term stabilization will not pass unless concerns of the House are addressed… Without a stabilization package, the market will collapse and advance premium tax credits will spike. This would increase the costs to the American taxpayer.” [Lindsey Graham Statement, 10/19/17]
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO): “I Don’t Know” If Alexander-Murray Could Pass The House. “Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., a member of the Senate GOP leadership, said he believes the Senate could pass a bipartisan health care fix but wasn’t sure if it could clear the House or get President Trump’s signature. ‘I believe they’ll be able to come up with a proposal, and a number of senators will sponsor it,’ Blunt, R-Mo., said of the negotiations between Alexander and Murray. ‘I don’t have a sense of where the president’s going to wind up or where the House is. I think the Senate would likely be able to get something done there. But whether the other two essential players are willing to go in that direction, I don’t know.’” [Tennessean, 9/29/17]
AND PRESIDENT TRUMP FLIP-FLOPS ON HIS SUPPORT FOR ALEXANDER-MURRAY TOO MUCH TO BE TRUSTED
President Trump: “Senator Mike Rounds Of South Dakota Quoted Trump As Telling Republican Senators, ‘I Support The Alexander-Murray Bill.’” “Senator Mike Rounds of South Dakota quoted Trump as telling Republican senators, ‘I support the Alexander-Murray bill.’ ‘He actually made it very clear that he supported the Alexander-Murray bill,’ Rounds said of the president’s remarks during a luncheon meeting with senators. ‘He sees it as a transition away from Obamacare.’” [Bloomberg, 11/28/17]
President Trump: “I’m Not Going To Do It.” “So when I knocked out the hundreds of millions of dollars a month being paid back to the insurance companies by politicians — I must tell you — that wanted me to continue to pay this, I said I’m not going to do it. This is money that goes to the insurance companies to line their pockets, to raise up their stock prices. And they’ve had a record run. They’ve had an incredible run, and it’s not appropriate.” [Politico, 10/18/17]
President Trump: “Congress Must Find A Solution To The Obamacare Mess Instead Of Providing Bailouts To Insurance Companies.” “While I commend the bipartisan work done by Sens. Alexander and Murray — and I do commend it — I continue to believe Congress must find a solution to the Obamacare mess instead of providing bailouts to insurance companies.” [Politico, 10/18/17]
President Trump: “I Can Never Support Bailing Out Ins Co’s Who Have Made A Fortune W/ O’Care.” “I am supportive of Lamar as a person & also of the process, but I can never support bailing out ins co’s who have made a fortune w/ O’Care.” [Tweet, 10/18/17]
President Trump: “For A Period Of One Year, Two Years, We Will Have A Very Good Solution.” “‘Alexander said the president had encouraged his efforts in phone calls over the past two weeks. And at the White House, Trump responded positively, expressing optimism that Republicans would ultimately succeed in repealing Obamacare, but until then, ‘For a period of one year, two years, we will have a very good solution.’ ‘It is a short-term solution so that we don’t have this very dangerous little period, including a dangerous period for insurance companies, by the way,’ he said during a Rose Garden press conference.” [Associated Press, 10/17/17]