A shutdown’s worth of political famine behind them, Senate Republicans took to the Senate floor to feast on the Affordable Care Act and its troubles.
Senator after senator, from defund-Obamacare champion Ted Cruz of Texas to the pragmatic aisle-crosser Susan Collins of Maine, shared stories of their constituents losing their health insurance. In all, of the 45 Republicans senators, 34 spoke on Thursday.
President Obama’s much-criticized line promising Americans they could keep their plans if they wanted to was a prominent feature in most of the short speeches. That Republicans are pouncing on the plan’s troubles is far from surprising, but the show Thursday underscored the sharp contrast between the GOP’s current position and the frayed status of the conference during the shutdown and the debt-limit fight.
The usually sleepy Senate chamber crackled with the sounds of confident Republicans, whose speeches highlighted woes but didn’t offer policy tweaks or new legislation.
A grinning Minority Leader Mitch McConnell previewed the onslaught—and the GOP’s thinking—Wednesday after the weekly party luncheon. “Obviously, the panic has set in on the other side. Everything we predicted was going to happen with Obamacare has happened,” he said.
Senate Democrats, for their part, are meeting with White House officials in the Capitol at 1 p.m. Thursday to discuss a possible legislative path forward.
A Senate Democratic leadership aide suggested that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid could use the bill expected to pass from Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., as a possible vehicle to offer their own fixes to the law. But much depends on how the meeting with administration officials goes, the aide said.
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Hillary Clinton hopes that television ratings for the candidates' acceptance speeches at their respective conventions aren't foreshadowing of similar results at the polls in November. Preliminary results from the networks and cable channels show that 34.9 million people tuned in for Donald Trump's acceptance speech while 33.3 million watched Clinton accept the Democratic nomination. However, it is still possible that the numbers are closer than these ratings suggest: the numbers don't include ratings from PBS or CSPAN, which tend to attract more Democratic viewers.