Senate Republicans Pounce on Obamacare Woes

The usually sleepy Senate chamber crackled with the sounds of confident Republicans.

Senate Minority Leader U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (C) speaks to the media as (L-R), Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), Sen. John Barrasso and Sen. John Thune (R-SD), listen after their weekly Senate Republican policy luncheon at the U.S. Capitol November 13, 2013.
National Journal
Michael Catalini
Nov. 14, 2013, 5:53 a.m.

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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