Subject to the exceptional pressure of Donald Trump, the US Senate finally voted Tuesday in favor of opening the debate on the repeal of the reform of Barack Obama’s health care system. But this vote is not the guarantee of a final victory.
The Senate, majority-republican, narrowly voted for a simple procedural motion which authorizes 20 hours of discussions in the Chamber and, in total, a whole series of votes on the substance of the reform.
A first vote is expected to take place on Tuesday night on a new version of the republican plan of reform of the health system, told AFP the entourage of the majority leader, but this vote should fail due to procedural rules that require 60 votes out of 100, instead of 51.
Other votes will take place Wednesday on various proposals, again at the uncertain outcome.
It was nevertheless a victory for the American president, who had summoned the senators of his camp to silence their differences and to advance on this reform stalled for months.
“I salute the Senate for taking a giant step towards the end of the nightmare Obamacare,” he congratulated himself.
“I am confident that now, in a week or two, we will present a plan that is going to be true, truly wonderful for the American people,” he promised.
The majority had thrown in the towel last week, facing its internal dissensions. Donald Trump then launched a campaign of charm, mingled with threats of scarcely veiled retaliation, in order to dissuade the senators of his camp from defecting.
At the time of the vote, of the 52 Republican senators, only two dared to say no: Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska). The final vote was 51 votes to 50, with Vice-President Mike Pence bringing in the 51st, as the Constitution allows the Speaker of the Senate to do so in the event of a tie.
The ‘rules’ of the majority
Senator John McCain, who came back from Arizona for the treatment of brain cancer, voted yes, but denounced the ultra-partisan strategy of the group leaders, warning him Was prepared to oppose the final text. “I do not think it will work, and it’s probably better that way,” he said of the current attempt.
Ovated by his colleagues, he joked that he returned here, however “a little damaged”. A scar above his left eye testifies to his operation, a dozen days ago.
Most moderate rebel Republicans have agreed to let the debate begin.
The sequence that opens will consist in giving concessions to the various factions of the majority group.
It is the squaring of the circle, between the Conservatives who push for a dry repeal of Obamacare, and the moderates who refuse to cut the health budget. The latter want to preserve as much as possible the financing of Medicare, the public health insurance that ensures the poorest Americans.
A scenario was more and more evoked: a minimal repeal of the 2010 law, ie the individual obligation to ensure, the obligation for many employers to offer health insurance To their employees, and finally a tax on medical devices.
This is far from the total repeal long promised by the Republican Party, but at this point, it may be the lowest common denominator. The Democratic opposition, however, is wary of the “rules” of the majority, thanks to complex procedural maneuvers of which the Senate has the secret.
She feared that any text adopted by the Upper House would be modified in a more conservative way during the possible shuttle with the House of Representatives.
The moderate Republicans “are under enormous pressure on their right,” warned Chuck Schumer, head of the Democrats.