After Republican leadership in the Senate couldn't garner enough votes to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Majority Leader Mitch McConnell suggested they simply repeal the healthcare legislation without anything to take its place. That idea didn't last long, as three female Republican senators essentially killed the Senate's repeal plan the next day.
On Tuesday, GOP Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), and Shelley Moore Capito (West Virginia) came out strongly against efforts to eliminate the ACA, also known as Obamacare. In statements posted online, Collins said the plan isn't constructive and Murkowski said the Senate should work toward bipartisan legislation. In harsher words, Capito said, "I did not come to Washington to hurt people."
Senate Republicans passed a bill to repeal Obamacare in 2015 (which President Obama vetoed) that analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found could have resulted in 18 million Americans losing insurance in one year. In his current efforts, McConnell wants to give the Senate two years to come up with a replacement bill.
All three women opposed Senate Republicans' proposed Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), which would have drastically cut Medicaid, withheld all federal funds from Planned Parenthood for a year, and allowed states to opt out of guaranteeing coverage for essential health benefits, including preventative and maternity care.
With no Democratic support, both the BCRA and the bill to repeal Obamacare would fail if more than two Republicans voted "no," so the GOP women of the Senate could have stopped both on their own. In fact, they did stop the motion to simply repeal the current healthcare legislation on their own — they were the first Republicans to publicly announce their opposition. (The only two other female Republicans in the Senate, Joni Ernst of Iowa and Deb Fischer of Nebraska, haven't said where they stand on the issue.)
These same women weren't included in the Senate's efforts to write a new healthcare law after the House passed its version of reform in May. McConnell and 12 other GOP men formed a working group to start drafting a new bill, later saying that all conservative senators, including women, were welcome to attend. Sens. Ernst and Capito each attended one meeting, but no women were consistently involved in drafting the legislation.
Despite already having too much opposition for a repeal effort to pass, McConnell told reporters on Wednesday that he still plans to hold a vote on the topic. If Collins, Murkowski, and Capito stick by their statements, it won't move forward.