After returning from the July break perhaps Republicans were hoping, in the wake of Trump and his sons latest scandal, for a bit of breathing room in regards to the BCRA. Given the current resistance to the bill by nearly a dozen lawmakers, the sudden redrafting of the bill to produce two versions, one with the Cruz amendment and one without, and sending both to the CBO, and the current resistance to a debate (much less the actual vote) it’s safe to say that hope has been lost.
I would say there are two problems currently plaguing the Senate leadership: first the lack of transparency. Regardless of their reasoning, at no stage were any senators much less the voting public going to accept a bill they had not seen nor thoroughly vetted, not even on a party line basis. Expecting as much, especially in the face of what amounts to the entire history of the senate, was foolish and frankly I expected better from McConnell.
Secondly, the speed of the bills process, which is unprecedented and stupid. This can be traced to two things: firstly the expectation that a republican president would sign a repeal bill (which they already had) and leave any replacement either for later or for the states, allowing them to move swiftly to tax reform. When Trump won and then claimed that his bill would (functionally) be a repeal and replace bill, the party scrambled, knowing they had little time to move forward with their priorities and expecting something different.
Which is in turn the second point: Republicans don’t deal with healthcare. They focus on taxes and deregulation, and suddenly having to develop a replacement bill for a plan they loathed (or positioned themselves politically opposed to) with no knowledge or experienced hands to call on, and the need to work fast to move forward on their preferred legislation limited their options.
With no real experience to draw on, no willingness to lean on any conservative plans that weren’t hard right (as any external conservative healthcare plan is closer to the center than the ideologues are comfortable with) and the need to use the reconciliation rules to pass any bill on party lines, has basically crippled any attempt to pass a repeal and replace bill.
There’s still a chance the bill could pass of course. But at this stage the options are fast closing, and I very much doubt republicans want their time as the legislative majority dominated by healthcare.
Politico: Senate Moderates Sidelined in New Repeal Bill