Health care state of play: Repeal effort dead -- for now

Phil Mattingly, CNN | 7/19/2017, 11:16 a.m.
The Senate Republicans' quest to do something on health care continues Wednesday with a lunch at the White House and ...
U.S. Capitol Wikipedia

Irreconcilable? "There are more weeks than not when it seems that way," a Republican health care lobbyist responded when asked. "And this is definitely one of those weeks."

So why are they holding the vote at all?

It's time to put everyone on record. That was essentially the takeaway of rank-and-file senators after Tuesday's closed-door GOP conference meeting. Enough senators in the conference, citing years of campaign promises and genuine overall frustration with the fact this looks dead, want to have a vote.

As Sen. John Thune, the No. 3 Republican in the chamber, told me yesterday: "I think what the leader has concluded is that a lot of have been in his ear and want to vote." So, barring some late shift, they're going to vote.

Is something bipartisan going to happen now?

Senate health committee Chairman Lamar Alexander, after things went south Tuesday, released a statement saying regardless of how the vote goes, his panel will hold hearings on stabilizing the individual market in the coming weeks. Worth noting -- Alexander, who is both well-liked and well-respected on both sides of the aisle -- has been open to working on stabilization proposals on a bipartisan basis from the start.

Meanwhile, an aide told CNN Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, began reaching out to the former governors in the chamber (of which Alexander is one) Tuesday morning to see if he could kick-start talks on a bipartisan effort. It's in its earliest stages, and Manchin has tried in vain to launch things like this before, but worth keeping an eye on.


A very important note: Conservative members (and the outside groups that support them) want no part of an Obamacare "fix." We're still a long way from bipartisanship ripening, if it happens at all.