South Carolina Republican and conservative firebrand Sen. Jim DeMint introduced legislation to repeal Obamacare on Wednesday, the first official step in bringing the House-passed repeal bill fight into the staid upper chamber.
But a slew of mostly moderate senators declined to support DeMint’s legislation, raising questions on the unity of the Republican caucus.
Even with the full support of Republicans, the measure faces steep odds as Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid still controls the chamber and is expected to face a Democratic filibuster.
“Republicans are standing with the American people who are demanding we repeal this government takeover of health care,” said DeMint in a written statement.
“Repealing ObamaCare is vital to the future of our nation and the health of our people. ObamaCare will raise health costs, reduce choices, ration care, hike taxes, cut jobs, increase the national debt and put bureaucrats between patients and their doctors. It’s time to start over and implement commonsense solutions that allow Americans to choose affordable plans across state lines, end frivolous lawsuits that drive up costs, and gives equitable tax treatment to those who don’t get insurance from their employer,” DeMint said.
Backing him are 34 Republicans including Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, and Republican Whip Sen. John Kyl of Arizona.
Conspicuously absent from the list of cosponsors are Republican Sens. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Thad Cochran of Mississippi, Susan Collins of Maine, Chuck Grassley of Iowa, John Hoeven of North Dakota, Mark Kirk of Illinois, Richard Lugar of Indiana, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Jeff Sessions of Alabama and Olympia Snowe of Maine.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has repeatedly dared Reid to bring up Obamacare repeal for a vote.
Jan. 6, Reid said “misguided” House Republicans “have to understand that the health-care bill is not going to be repealed” and that the GOP “should get a new lease on life and talk about something else.”
Ed. note: this article has been updated. Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts was not listed as a cosponsor to the bill in a press release sent from DeMint’s office. But a spokesman sends word Sen. Brown is indeed backing the bill. Similarly, a spokeswoman for Sen. Michael Enzi sent word that he is a cosponsor.