Republicans Are Panicking After One Of Their Own May Have Just Killed GOP Tax Bill With One Huge Mistake

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made a promise that could end up killing the Republican tax bill in the House in order to ensure its passage in the Senate.

In a speech on the Senate floor Monday, McConnell reiterated a promise to Maine Sen. Susan Collins that he will hold votes on three policies to “mitigate the damage the tax bill would do to the nation’s health insurance markets,” Talking Points Memo reports.

Collins said she will vote for the Republican tax bill in exchange for specific additions to the tax bill and two separate healthcare policies: restoring government Obamacare subsidies to health insurers after they were cut off by Trump, and setting up a temporary federal reinsurance program.

Via CNN:

Collins asked for specific things in the Senate tax bill:

  • An expansion of the medical expense deduction
  • The expansion of the State and Local Tax deduction
  • The re-instatement of catch-up contributions for public employees

Her vote was contingent on those things, plus future guarantees on two health care items — the bill from Sens. Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray that includes funding for Obamacare’s cost-sharing reduction subsidies and a separate bill with Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson that would create a reinsurance fund.

She got the tax provisions, and she got a guarantee from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on the future health care proposal. She also got a guarantee from McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan that pay-as-you go automatic cuts to programs like Medicare would be waived before they would be triggered by the deficit-heavy bill.

“We must pass a routine waiver to avoid unacceptable cuts in Medicare funding and other vital programs,” McConnell said about the PAYGO law which triggers massive cuts to government programs as a result of the party’s tax bill’s huge $1 trillion-plus cost.

“And of particular importance,” he said, “faced with the continued failure of Obamacare to keep health insurance affordable for working Americans, we must take this opportunity to pass bipartisan solutions that will help stabilize collapsing health insurance markets and lower premiums for individuals and families across the country.”

Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander also promised to attach Collins’ requirements to the funding bill Congress has to pay by Friday to avoid a government shutdown.

So Collins sold her vote on taxes for a McConnell promise, and now that promise may sink the whole deal.

Politico’s Jake Sherman reports that a number of House Republicans have come out against restoring the Obamacare subsidies in the spending bill.

Sherman reports that the opposition is beyond just anti-spending Freedom Caucus members. Rank and file Republicans have come out against the move as well.

Some lawmakers believe McConnell will “punt this issue into next year.”

But CNN predicts the importance of Collins may force McConnell’s hand.

Via Phil Mattingly:

What McConnell promised Collins isn’t a sure thing — again, House Republicans are deeply opposed to the health care provisions and Democrats, according to several people involved in the year-end spending negotiations, have little appetite to help the Republican leader finalize a deal in the midst of a partisan tax overhaul push.

But the dynamic at play here is a very important one — McConnell is about to have his majority cut down by one senator. That makes Collins in extremely valuable player in whatever happens in 2018. Alienating her — and failing to deliver on something that she has staked her vote on — is a seriously bad play.



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