Although they’ve called repeatedly for repeal of the Democrats’ new health reform law, some senior Senate Republicans have not endorsed a bill that would actually do it.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), GOP Conference Chair Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) and Conference Vice Chair Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) have all argued that the reforms — passed in March without Republican support — will hike costs and erode services, and therefore should be scrapped. Yet they haven’t signed on to their party’s repeal proposal.
That bill — just nine words long — has been endorsed by other party leaders, including Jon Kyl (Ariz.), the minority whip, and John Cornyn (Texas), who heads the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC).
That McConnell, Alexander and Murkowski haven’t done the same, some experts say, could erode the Republicans’ election-year message that the Democrats’ health reforms will do more harm than good.
“Unified party positions are better than divided party positions,” Julian Zelizer, a congressional expert at Princeton University, said in an email. “When the GOP is not all on board with legislation,” he added, Democrats can argue “Republicans calling for repeal are on the wrong track.”
“Equally important, in an age of party unity, when divisions like this emerge it suggests [what] pollsters are saying: there is support for the healthcare bill in red America,” he said.
Jonathan Oberlander, health policy professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, said the Republicans’ repeal push could be an indicator of the split between GOP leaders and the Tea Party movement’s conservatives.