Murkowski says she won’t support the repeal of Obamacare without a replacement

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

Alaska’s U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski is the third senator to come out against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s last-ditch effort to simply repeal Obamacare. The months-long GOP effort to immediately replace Obamacare collapsed Monday night when two more senators came out against the effort.

McConnell almost immediately announced he’d push a repeal-only bill for Obamacare, but delay the repeal for two years while Congress comes up with an alternative. Almost as quickly as that happened two moderate GOP senators, Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Shelley Moore Capito (West Virginia), said they’d be no votes.

Murkowski became the third when she spoke with MSNBC this morning, saying “I’m not there” when it comes to proceeding with the vote.

“I said in January we should not repeal without a replacement,” she said. “Just an indefinite hold on this just creates more chaos and confusion.”

A video of the exchange isn’t immediately available, but here’s a rough transcript of the exchange:

MSNBC: Where are you on the motion to proceed on this repeal and then replace?

MURKOWSKI: I’m not there.

MSNBC: Not there?

MURKOWSKI: Nope.

MSNBC: You’d vote against a motion to proceed?

MURKOWSKI: I said in January we should not repeal without a replacement, and just an indefinite hold on this just creates more chaos and confusion.

A (bipartisan) path forward

Murkowski later followed up the statements to MSNBC with her own released through Twitter. The statement reiterates many of her long-standing concerns about the closed-door drafting process that only included a handful of Republicans. She said moving forward, the process should involve Democrats and Republicans to come up with a solution that actually addresses the underlying problems of high health care costs.

A change from 2015

The statement is particularly important because Murkowski voted for a straight repeal of Obamacare in 2015, a vote that McConnell said should make this one easy. (This was also the vote where Murkowski and Collins attempted to remove a provision that defunded Planned Parenthood through the amendment process. When the amendment failed Collins voted against the bill, but Murkowsi voted for it.)

Murkowski had been relatively quiet about her feelings on the Senate health care bill as she worked to improve its treatment for Alaska over the past month. The latest round of revisions saw an earmark of at least $1.82 billion for Alaska, but Murkowski said she still needed to see improvements before she would vote for the bill.

There was talk of more Alaska-friendly provisions in the works, pushed by Murkowski and Alaska U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan.

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