UPDATE (2:00 pm):
— Brandon Rittiman (@BrandonRittiman) July 26, 2017
Despite Gardner’s support, the bill failed by a 45-55 margin.
Cory Gardner isn’t even pretending anymore.
The Republican Senator from Yuma once touted himself as a moderate voice who would always protect the interests of Coloradans in the U.S. Senate, using this carefully-crafted centrist message to unseat Democratic Sen. Mark Udall in 2014. We’ve written plenty of words in this space about “Con Man Cory” and his endless slithering around taking definitive policy positions, but now that the healthcare legislation debate has finally reached the Senate floor, Gardner’s actions and votes have exposed him as nothing more than a partisan yes-man for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Senate Republicans needed Vice President Mike Pence to cast the tiebreaking vote on Tuesday just to allow them to formally discuss healthcare legislation on the Senate floor. We’re now in the “vote-o-rama” stages of healthcare policy sausage-making, and Gardner is voting “YES” on everything Senate leadership tells him to support — including supporting BCRA legislation with the “Cruz amendment” that would have all completely gutted Medicaid (the proposal failed on the floor Wednesday night, despite Gardner’s support).
As the Denver Post writes, Gardner is still comically evasive in answering questions even as he casts one “YES” vote after another:
After voting with his Republican colleagues Tuesday to begin debate on GOP plans to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, the Colorado lawmaker refused to reveal which of the competing proposals he found most appealing: a straight repeal, some version of the repeal-and-replace bill that Senate Republicans have discussed for weeks or a new idea to remove just a few parts of the ACA, also known as Obamacare…
…The ambiguity is in line with how Gardner has approached the debate overall. For weeks, Gardner has spoken mostly in generalities; one exception was his recent support of per capita caps on Medicaid spending.
On Wednesday morning, 9News aired an interview (we highly recommend watching the entire interview) with Gardner in which the Senator directly contradicted some of his previous comments on healthcare policy. Few politicians are able to make their words more meaningless than Gardner:
Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colorado) signaled a willingness to repeal the Affordable Care Act without enacting a replacement plan, telling 9NEWS in a Wednesday morning interview that he’d support a plan that put the nation “on a path” to an acceptable replacement for President Obama’s signature healthcare law.
Gardner voted in favor of a repeal-and-replace plan in the Senate, which ultimately failed due to lack of Republican support. Looking forward, he would not rule out other options on the table in the Senate, like repealing the ACA in the hopes of replacing it within the following two years…
…His answers on this point Wednesday morning contrast with what he said earlier this month on conservative radio station KNUS, in which Gardner expressed a preference to replace the healthcare law with a new one during its repeal—suggesting that such a plan could lead to unintended problems.
In his interview with 9News, Gardner refused to commit to preserving Colorado’s expanded Medicaid program, which is used by 1 in 5 Coloradans. You may recall that Gardner promised to protect Medicaid as recently as February, when he signed a letter along with several other Senators pledging to protect the healthcare program.
Gardner is breaking promises on healthcare at such a rapid pace that it’s difficult to even keep up with his contradictions. With that in mind, we thought it would be worthwhile to note some of the few specific answers Gardner has given on healthcare in the past couple of months. Gardner is walking right into a buzzsaw of John Kerry-esque proportions.
“We need to make sure the people with pre-existing conditions continue to have coverage and continue to have access to affordable coverage.”
— Sen. Cory Gardner (Denver Post, 5/22/17)
“While he has called for changes to the process – any vote he takes isn’t on process but is on if the measure is good or bad for Colorado.”
— Gardner spokesperson Casey Contras (Denver Post, 7/25/17)