POLITICS

Cruz and Rubio threatening to derail Obamacare repeal bill, say it doesn't go far enough

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 (Getty Images)

A House measure by Republicans that seeks to repeal large segments of President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act is coming under fire -- by conservatives among their ranks.

The group, led by Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida, are upset that the legislation doesn't repeal the Affordable Care Act outright and they say that Republican leaders need to stand up to the Senate parliamentarian if they want a full repeal.

The measure, expected to be vote on in the House on Friday, would repeal large portions of Obamacare, defund Planned Parenthood and include Republican plans for deep spending cuts, according to the Washington Post.

"Each of us campaigned on a promise to fully repeal Obamacare and a reconciliation bill is the best way to send such legislation to President Obama's desk," Cruz said in a joint statement with Rubio and Utah Sen. Mike Lee. "If this bill cannot be amended so that it fully repeals Obamacare pursuant to Senate rules, we cannot support this bill. With millions of Americans now getting health premium increase notices in the mail, we owe our constituents nothing less."

While the bill is expected to pass the House without much of a fight, its chances of passing through the Senate – especially with the opposition from Cruz, Rubio and Lee – are very much up in the air.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would have to secure the rest of his 54-member Republican caucus to get the 51 votes needed for passage. The 46 Senate Democrats are expected to vote in lockstep against the legislation and, besides the three senators mentioned above, there are already signs of defections from the GOP side.

Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk has voiced opposition to a provision in the reconciliation bill that would halt federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

Despite Republican claims that the reconciliation bill would force Obama to answer for his controversial healthcare law, the more conservative lawmakers in the party say that their worries center on the Byrd Rule, which states that a reconciliation bill can only include provisions that have a direct impact on the budget.

This is where the Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough – a GOP appointee – comes in.

Texas Republican Rep. Bill Flores said that Republicans needs to take stronger against MacDonough and the Senate procedures that she governs as while current Senate rules wouldn't allow a full repeal, Flores said the Senate parliamentarian could be overruled.

"If you read the Senate rules, there are provisions where the Senate parliamentarian can be overridden," Flores said, according to the Hill. "There are some of us that have concerns because it is a very, very modest reconciliation."

Despite the pressure to go after the parliamentarian, some in the GOP are pushing back against their colleagues' claims.

"I have more respect for the parliamentarian than any of my colleagues. With that said, they have no power there. Whenever they tell you, ‘Oh the parliamentarian is making us do this or that,' or something, hogwash," Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) told The Hill on Thursday.

"It's a pretend vote and people are upset because it doesn't pretend enough. I'll vote for it," he said.

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