Obamacare Repeal Officially Dead After Cruz Says No

In a sudden change of heart that kills senate Republicans’ effort to pass a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare before a rule allowing Republicans to circumvent a Democratic filibuster expires at the end of the month, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is now saying he won’t support the Graham-Cassidy Obamacare repeal bill.

Cruz, who revealed his position during a panel discussion at a Texas Tribune conference in Austin, suggested that the proposal also lacks the vote of Sen. Mike Lee, according to Politico. The Texas Republican said he and Lee offered amendments to the Graham-Cassidy proposal last week that would go further in bringing down Obamacare premiums but that the changes weren’t included in the latest draft of the bill.

The latest blow to the seven-year-long Obamacare repeal effort comes as President Donald Trump escalates feuds with Both North Korea and US professional sports leagues. Cruz’s opposition means that, with both he and McCain saying know and at least two other moderates leaning toward a no, that even if Trump manages to flip Sen. Rand Paul, he wouldn’t be able to muster the 50 votes needed for Vice President Mike Pence to break a tie.

“Right now, they don’t have my vote and I don't think they have Mike Lee’s vote either,” Cruz said during a panel discussion at the Texas Tribune festival in Austin that also included Sen. John Cornyn.

Both Cruz and Cornyn – a member of senate Republican leadership - had said they back the way the bill would convert Obamacare funding into a system of block grants to states. But while Cornyn said he would vote for the bill as it stands, Cruz said that he wants to see more changes, but declined to elaborate.

Ironically, Texas and other states that didn't expand coverage under Obamacare would fare well under the Graham-Cassidy plan, according to Politico, which cited an independent analyses of the bill showing it would save the state some $35 billion between 2020 and 2026.

Rand Paul reiterated his opposition to the bill during an appearance on “Meet the Press” Sunday morning, saying he would only support the bill if the block-grant provision that Cruz purportedly supports (or at least, once supported) is dropped.

"What it sets up is a perpetual food fight over the formula," he said. "What happens when Democrats win? They're going to claw back that money from Republican states to give to Democrat states."

Trump had said during a rally on Friday that Paul might “come around” then tweeted Saturday that he might’ve found a way to gain the Kentucky Republican’s support. News of Cruz’s opposition must’ve pleased the dozens of protesters who gathered outside the University of Texas auditorium where Cruz was speaking to protest repealing the bill.

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Here's a roundup of where key senators stand on Graham-Cassidy. As it suggests, the bill now has a very low chance of passing.