Last night the U.S. Senate voted to repeal so-called Obamacare – no, don’t tune out. We know Republicans have done that dozens of times, but this time is different, or so they say. This ‘repeal’ is expected to make it to President Obama’s desk, and, as Matt Laslo reports from Washington, Wyoming’s two senators both played a key role in the effort.
You may or may not be aware, but one of Wyoming’s senators is a doctor. John Barrasso hates Obamacare so much he started hosting a YouTube show solely focused on derailing the president’s signature health care bill.
Barrasso and his former co-host – Doctor and former Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn – were unashamed about what the show was intended to do: They want to kill Obamacare. The show never took off. It got more than two thousand views on the first episode, but the clunky production turned people off and soon they were just getting hundreds of views.
Barrasso has also taken his anti-Obamacare rhetoric from the lo-fi world of the internet to the austere Senate floor. Back in 2010 he started storming the floor seemingly once a week, to deliver an address dubbed “A Second Opinion” – That’s right. For five years he’s been letting C-SPAN viewers and cable shows know he’s a doctor who opposes the health law.
Barrasso saw some of the seeds he’s thrown in the wind bear fruit. That’s because the Senate passed a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act and it’s either going to become law or, more likely, get vetoed by the president, which is what is expected. While Barrasso is seemingly the GOP’s loudest voice railing against the health law, this latest effort relied on the brains of Wyoming’s senior senator, Mike Enzi. He’s the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee.
“Well, it’s a special procedure that comes under the budget, and so we have crafted a way to save people a trillion dollars in taxes and get into place a better way to handle healthcare,” said Enzi.
Enzi explains how the GOP got around the filibuster to pass the bill.
“Well there’s a huge rulebook that we have to follow and then there are cabinets full of precedent that it all has to conform to otherwise you lose the privilege, the privilege means that we can pass it with 51 votes, if you lose the privilege it takes 60 and wouldn’t be possible to get it done.”
While Wyoming Republicans are cheering, Democrats are crying ‘foul.’ Even though the Affordable Care Act was passed by Democrats with a 51 vote threshold, senior Delaware Democratic Senator Tom Carper says the GOP is merely playing politics with the issue.
“The Republicans like to feed their base and, I presume, they think this is helpful in that regard. That’s their decision; they have a right to offer the amendments; my hope is that we eventually reach an end to it.”
But Wyoming Congresswoman Cynthia Lummis said it’s more than that.
“We want this bill so our constituents see…Congress is working again that the House and the Senate can function. That Republicans have made a difference by having a Republican majority in the Senate even though it’s a very slight majority.”
Though Lummis admits President Obama’s veto will send a message to the Republican base.
“Well he is going to veto it but our constituents are so frustrated with us because we want to repeal Obamacare we want to repeal as much of it as we can and we are thwarted from getting a bill to the President’s desk.”
Senator Barrasso doesn’t care since he’s got his eyes on the 2016 election.
“This is a clear distinction between what the president is proposing and what the Republican candidates running for president will do. This sends a message that we are committed to repealing this and replacing it with patient-centered care.”
All of Washington knows President Obama is going to win this round on Obamacare, but the fate of the health law seems to rest in the hands of voters and the 2016 election.