A good update this weekend from the Denver Post’s Mark Matthews as the U.S. Senate gets back to work on repealing the Affordable Care Act–which seems less likely to succeed now than ever after a July 4th recess packed with bad news and public protest.
But don’t tell that to Republicans following Sen. Cory Gardner, who don’t seem to regard him as a swing vote at all:
U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner returns to Capitol Hill next week after a Fourth of July break in Colorado that was anything but a respite from the contentious debate over Republican plans to dismantle the Affordable Care Act…
Adding to the tension is the status of Republican efforts to unravel the ACA. Over the last two weeks, Senate Republicans have struggled to craft a bill that can appease enough GOP lawmakers to pass it without Democratic support.
Gardner and his colleagues will return to Washington with the goal of getting it done before Congress adjourns again for its August recess…
Though the bill’s final language remains in flux, there is little doubt in Colorado political circles about where Gardner will stand at the end of the day — despite Gardner not taking a public position on the first Senate version when it was released in late June.
“In the end Colorado conservatives know that Cory Gardner is going to vote to repeal Obamacare and when there is a final bill Cory Gardner is going to be there,” said Guy Short, a political consultant and longtime Colorado delegate to the Republican National Convention. [Pols emphasis]
Matthews’ story also highlights the fact that Gardner has avoided public appearances which could result in criticism, and that protest activity in the last few weeks outside (and inside) has dramatically ramped up:
Gardner took two meetings on health care during the recess: a visit to the Yampa Valley Medical Center in Steamboat Springs and a conference with executives and doctors at the Pioneers Medical Center in Meeker.
What Gardner didn’t do, and what he hasn’t done since March 2016, is hold a town hall meeting [Pols emphasis] — a strategy that has frustrated liberal activists and set off a debate about the duty of elected officials to appear in public to hear their critics.
Combined with the difficulty Republicans are having putting together a bill that can pass the GOP-controlled Senate’s gauntlet of opposing priorities, there’s little good news for Colorado’s junior Senator any way you look at this. Certainly, Republican insiders confidently predicting Gardner will be a “yes” vote undercuts his contention that he is undecided, which is what he uses to dodge specific questions.
Assuming the August recess isn’t cancelled as a number of Republicans have expressed support for, and given the growing desire by Republicans to “move on” from health care after going on three tries to pass Obamacare repeal, we could be in the end stages of a massive failure by the GOP on their biggest policy goal of the decade.
Whatever happens, Gardner is not fooling anyone–friend or foe–on where he stands.