The Republican-led Senate failed to pass healthcare reform – again. Now it appears they may try to pass a simple repeal bill, meaning that in two years Obamacare would officially die. This, the thinking goes, would force the Senate to do something by then. The problem is Republicans have 52 in the Senate, and they need 50 of those 52 to agree to any legislation, given that Democrats are content to stand by while Obamacare implodes. But is there another answer? “Yes!” says one senator. This senator’s plan makes perfect sense. In fact, it may not just be the best answer, but the only answer . . .
The man in question is Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma. As for the Republican plan that just fell short, Lankford told CNN’s Jake Tapper, “Put me down as a solid undecided.”
Lankford released this statement: “Congress should pass a bill that provides a smooth transition from the Affordable Care Act to a better system that provides more affordable coverage options for everyone, with the goal in mind of doing no harm to current enrollees.” He then offered six specific areas of concern to the Tulsa World newspaper, to help the proposed legislation, which failed to even come to a vote.
But this was never Lankford’s plan in the first place. No, he had, and still has, the only plan that will actually work. And until the Senate embraces his idea, they have virtually zero chance of passing new healthcare reform legislation.
Interviewed on Fox News Tuesday morning, Senator Lankford repeated the plan he first set forth months ago. “For seven years, we [Republicans] have been running around saying that when we get the majority, we will repeal and replace Obamacare. But we never actually came up with a plan that would garner enough support.”
When asked what he would do to get a bill that could pass, Lankford said, “It’s simple. Here’s my plan. Get all 52 Republican senators in a room, and stay there until we have the votes.”
Genius. Innovator. Creative. Brainy.
Pick your descriptor for the Oklahoma legislator. What he is saying will actually work. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell should not even think about releasing a plan that a) was constructed by just 14 senators (as he just did), and that b) does not have the support of 50 senators.
So the majority has two ways to go. They can follow Lankford’s plan and get in a room and hash out a plan. This could take days or even weeks. That’s okay. At least then, they’d have something to show for their work. Don’t announce anything until you have the votes. And then release the plan, give plenty of time for amendments and debate. And then vote.
Or McConnell can keep releasing plans that only 14 senators have created in hopes that 36 of the other 38 would agree also. Good luck with that!
I learned something a long time ago. Never have a vote until you know the outcome in advance. Mr. McConnell, follow Sen. Lankford’s lead. Get your caucus together. Set aside a week, maybe two. Carve the time out of your stupid August recess. And don’t talk to the press until your first words are, “We have a plan. We have the votes to pass it. Here it is.”
Several senators have offered their own plans – Cruz, Lee, Paul, Cassidy among them. But none of them will work because none of them will get the necessary votes. None. Zero. Zilch.
Just one plan will work. So, Mr. McConnell, invite the man from Oklahoma to breakfast. Listen – don’t say a thing. When Lankford is finished, repeat these words: “Thank you, Senator. We will do just that.” Then call your Republican colleagues together. It’s time for the longest slumber party in political history. No one goes home until you have a plan. No one passes “Go” or collects $200 (Monopoly lingo).
We have 100 United States senators. And exactly one of them has a plan that will work. He has the only plan that will work. Listen to him, Sen. McConnell. You’ll be the hero, the American people will be served, and Congress will actually get something done.
Yes, after seven years of failed Obamacare, it has all come down to this – one man with one plan. His name is Senator James Lankford. And his plan is the only one that will work.