The Hill ^ | 07/06/2017 | Alexander Bolton
Tensions between Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his old antagonist, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), have reappeared in the high-stakes negotiation over healthcare reform.
Cruz is insisting on a reform to the Senate GOP bill that senior GOP aides say is a nonstarter with much — if not most — of the Republican conference.
While Cruz sought out Health Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) to play what he promised would be a constructive role in the debate, senior GOP aides say Cruz is no longer being agreeable.
Instead, he is again being a thorn in McConnell’s side, much like he was in 2013, when he insisted on blocking a government spending bill unless it included language halting the implementation of ObamaCare, the staffers argue. Two years ago, Cruz famously called McConnell a liar on the Senate floor amid a debate on the Export-Import Bank.
GOP aides say the proposal that Cruz and his allies are framing as the potential key to passing the stalled healthcare bill is a nonstarter with most Republicans in the upper chamber.
The proposal would allow insurance companies the freedom to sell any kinds of health plans they want as long as they also sell at least one plan that qualifies under the regulatory requirements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
“I would say that if we voted on the Cruz proposal, it would be in the neighborhood of 37 to 15 against, 37 no votes and 15 yeses, and that’s probably generous,” said a GOP aide familiar with the Senate negotiations.