“Skinny Repeal” Dies, GOP Agenda in Ashes, Gardner Revealed

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

As the Denver Post’s Mark Matthews reports:

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado joined with most of his fellow Republicans early Friday in a failed attempt to pass a partial repeal of the Affordable Care Act that even some GOP lawmakers admitted was a strategy only meant to open negotiations with the House.

Three Republicans joined with every Democrat, including Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado, to reject the measure, which would have unwound a handful of the ACA’s taxes and levies, including a fine on most Americans who don’t buy health insurance…

Senate Republicans have been unable to come to agreement on how they want to dismantle the ACA — also known as Obamacare — and the overnight vote was a last-ditch effort to keep momentum on their seven-year pledge to reverse President Barack Obama’s signature health care law.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell raged impotently at Democrats after the bill died, Politico:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell expressed “regret” and “disappointment” immediately after the GOP failed to pass a minimalist Obamacare repeal bill early Friday, blaming congressional Democrats for not engaging “in a serious way” in the efforts to remedy the health care law…

Despite his party’s inability to come together to pass through the legislation, McConnell pinned much of the fault on Senate Democrats.

“Our friends on the other side decided early on they didn’t want to engage with us in a serious way, a serious way to help those suffering under Obamacare,” McConnell said.

There has been no statement yet this morning from Sen. Cory Gardner. Last night’s defeat of the last-ditch “skinny repeal” option, meant to move the process forward to conference with the House to produce a wholly undetermined less “skinny” version, is significantly more calamitous for Republicans than their previous failures on this defining issue that has dominated American politics for the last seven years. Before arriving at last night’s ultimate failure, Senate Republicans had floated several different versions of legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act, all of which failed. The Congressional Budget Office’s damning estimates of each new iteration of the bill made it increasingly clear that no proposal acceptable to the right wing would pass the gauntlet of politically vulnerable GOP Senators who could not allow such destruction to play out in their own states.

But not Cory Gardner.

Representing a state that President Donald Trump did not carry in 2016, a state that expanded Medicaid and has been one of the most successful at implementing the Affordable Care Act, Gardner was in a difficult position after the GOP’s sweeping victory that year made long-cherished goals like repealing Obamacare possible. Gardner in particular made attacks on the ACA central to his political campaigns, often with little factual basis. Now that Gardner found himself in a position to keep that long-sought promise, things started to get a little, well, hairy.

At first, Gardner tried to ride the fence. He sent a letter with a few other Senators earlier this year calling for better protections for Medicaid patients who would be affected by ACA repeal. He talked in interviews about the importance of having a replacement plan ready to go concurrent with any vote to repeal. And he professed to care about the people protesting in ever greater numbers outside his offices, claiming he was part of a select “working group” drafting the legislation.

But when it finally came time to start voting, two things became clear: first that Gardner was not in any kind of control over the final shape of any proposed legislation, and second that Gardner was going to vote yes regardless of the promises he made before. In rapid succession, Gardner voted to hurt the Medicaid patients he wanted to protect, repeal the ACA with no replacement, and then last night in favor of a bill the CBO estimated would hike premiums by 20%–breaking what everyone thought was Gardner’s foremost promise to “bring down the cost of care.”

We can’t say exactly what Gardner thought would be the outcome when he went into this process, but the failure to pass anything while simultaneously breaking every promise he made about what he would and would not support is absolutely devastating to Gardner’s credibility. Everything Gardner said he valued in this debate turned out not to be true. When the proverbial chips were down, Gardner abandoned his stated principles, and voted for legislation that would have all the negative effects he claimed he wanted to spare Coloradans. It’s possible that as head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), he felt obligated to do so to protect his 2018 charges from backlash.

But if anything, that just makes it worse. Gardner’s true loyalties, which are not to Colorado, stand revealed.


28 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. FrankUnderwood says:

    Anyone getting tired of winning yet?

    Not only did GOP Plans A, B, and C to repeal and/or replace bite the dust, but yesterday both Houses imposed sanctions upon Russia which will not make Vlad happy.

    • taterheaptom says:

      Me, Moldy, and AChole–we are SICK and TIRED of all this winning! 

      Well Oiled, it is! The Trump Train…


      We're not stroking our own Johnson here! We're trying to save the country!  

      • Gilpin Guy says:

        They probably don't even have the energy at this point to write nasty's about 'those women'.  Such a bummer to be so close and then have your nuts slammed in the car door.  McConnell must be sweating bullets having to go up to the White House and face Trump.  That ought to be an interesting conversation.

  2. DavieDavie says:

    David Leonhardt of the NY Times puts it this way:

    Above all, it failed because Congressional Republicans and President Trump never developed a real health care plan. They developed a make-believe plan, made up of lies about Obamacare and talking points about their own plan that were unconnected to reality.

    Without a real plan, Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan and other Congressional leaders couldn’t sell people on substance. They knew their bills were a slapdash attempt at keeping a promise — repeal Obamacare! — that would deprive millions of people of health coverage. So they instead tried to rush through a bill with unprecedented secrecy. The final vote, on a bill released only hours before, occurred after 2 a.m.

    This process, a more shocking violation of democratic norms than anything Anthony Scaramucci has done this week, is what finally flipped McCain.

    “We’ve tried to do this by coming up with a proposal behind closed doors in consultation with the administration, then springing it on skeptical members, trying to convince them it’s better than nothing, asking us to swallow our doubts and force it past a unified opposition,” McCain said, in his floor speech on Tuesday. “I don’t think that is going to work in the end,” he said.

    And Con Man Cory owns this GOP trash heap along with all the rest of his caucus.

  3. Gilpin Guy says:

    He probably needs a trip to the Marianas to chill out for a while.  No point coming back to Colorado and having to address the media and any questions about his broken promises.  He probably needs to spend more time with his family at this point in time.

  4. kwtreemamajama55 says:

    The Liberal Redneck  (Trae Crowder) weighs in:


  5. unnamed says:

    Man!!! 2017 has not been kind to Mr. Gardner.   Got exposed as a partisan, a coward and a fraud.   Mwahahahaha!!!!!!!

  6. DawnPatrol says:

    Cowardly Con Man Cory — you worm — you're finished.

  7. Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

    Corys' favorite spot always seemed to be standing at a microphone with Yertle and his gang of old white thugs…

    …he has his reward.

  8. JohnInDenverJohnInDenver says:

    “Our friends on the other side decided early on they didn’t want to engage with us in a serious way, a serious way to help those suffering under Obamacare,” McConnell said.

    Was "the other side" deciding before or after you assigned a group of 13 Republican men to develop the proposal to bring to the Senate floor? My friends with inquiring minds want to know.

  9. Diogenesdemar says:

    Perhaps McCain's dramatic thumbs-downing of this McConnell monstrosity was nothing more than just his simple knowledgeable statement about how much Paul Ryan's assurances should ever be trusted????

    • Gilpin Guy says:

      I thought it was appropos that McConnell was standing right there when McCain gave the thumbs down vote.  It was an in your face moment to the turtle.

      • Conserv. Head Banger says:

        Now you guys may understand how D.C. works. Several of you criticized McCain for voting to begin debate. However, you overlooked the fact that he likely did that so he could make his points. 

        With McCain's leadership, perhaps the Repubs will now sit down with the Dems to figure out how to fix O-Care; reform Medicaid; maybe allow for putting drug proposals out for bid instead of having to pay whatever Big Pharma wants; and maybe also trim some unnecessary spending here and there to help the budget deficit.

        And to quote the "troll boys," shouldn't we really be talking about Benghazi?

        • RepealAndReplace says:

          And her emails. Don't forget those.

        • Powerful Pear says:

          So now you are an expert on DC. I'll add that to your list of attributes why you are so much smarter than anyone else of the site.

          Only you would see McCain's action as leadership, when in reality it is grandstanding. McCain is a nasty man and Cory Gardner loves to be in his orbit.

  10. Genghis says:

    Ups to McCain, Murkowski and Collins.

    Donnie Dump needs a distraction now more than ever. Unfortunately, that probably means bombs raining down on brown people in the near future.

  11. CaninesCanines says:

    I only clicked on this thread to see if somebody posted a non-sequitur about how Hillary spoke with the Russians, too.

    Carry on.

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