McConnell Says He Will Hold Vote to Repeal Obamacare with Simple 51-Vote Majority

Brittany M. Hughes | July 28, 2015 | 2:42pm EDT
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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) (AP Photo)

( – Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) pledged Tuesday to hold a vote to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, using a budget resolution that could be passed in the Senate with a simple majority vote of 51 to 49, according to a statement released Tuesday.

"Earlier this year, Senate Republicans passed a balanced budget, and with it the necessary procedural tools - via the budget reconciliation process - to bring an end to the nightmare of Obamacare,” McConnell said in the joint statement with Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah).

“Americans have faced skyrocketing health care costs, rampant fraud and more government between them and their doctors. And Republicans are united in working to repeal the broken promises of Obamacare and allow our country to start over fresh with real health reform that Americans deserve,” he added.

“We will continue our effort to use reconciliation - as the budget makes clear - to fulfill the promise we made to our constituents,” McConnell pledged.

The promise came as a result of a deal with some conservative senators, including Lee, who on Monday promised to withdraw his own amendment to the upcoming must-pass highway funding bill that would have repealed Obamacare.

The amendment would only have required a simple majority vote to be added to the highway bill. But Lee’s move resulted in pushback from Democrats and some Republicans, who suggested that adding the Obamacare repeal amendment could endanger the passing of the highway funding bill.

In exchange for withdrawing the amendment, Lee demanded McConnell’s support for a future budget reconciliation measure that would defund Obamacare. 

During this optional process, Congress can make changes to an existing law through a set of budget instructions for specific government programs. By law, a budget reconciliation can’t be filibustered, and only needs a simple majority to pass.

Lee’s budget reconciliation measure to defund Obamacare has yet to be written.

Lee released a statement Monday night ahead of the deal with McConnell, explaining that he would go back to his original plan of using a budget resolution to repeal President Barack Obama’s signature health care law, thereby allowing the highway bill to pass unencumbered -- but only if the Republican leadership pledged to support the budget resolution.

"Earlier this year, I joined with my Senate Republican colleagues to pass a Budget Resolution that included reconciliation instructions to repeal Obamacare with a simple majority vote in the Senate,” Lee said.

“Then last week, Republican Leaders offered an amendment to fully repeal Obamacare on a House-passed partial-repeal bill, thereby creating the same opportunity, to pass repeal legislation with only 51 votes. I immediately announced my intention to pursue that vote on the floor, consistent with Senate Rule XXII,” he continued.

“But like many of my colleagues, I believe the reconciliation option is a far superior strategy because it has the potential to pass both houses of Congress and reach the president’s desk - which has been my goal all along,” Lee added.

“Therefore, if Senate Republican leaders publicly commit to using budget reconciliation this year to repeal Obamacare, I will join that effort and withdraw my plan for a vote tonight,” he pledged.

In the joint statement with McConnell published Tuesday after the two reached a deal, Lee reaffirmed this commitment.

"Americans deserve quality health care at affordable prices and Obamacare is giving them the exact opposite,” Lee said in the release. “A Senate vote to repeal Obamacare on a simple majority basis through reconciliation is the best way to pursue that goal. The Majority Leader and I are committed to using reconciliation to repeal Obamacare in the 114th Congress.”

No timetable has been set for the budget reconciliation bill to be brought to the Senate for a vote.

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