Yesterday, after the House repealed the Affordable Care Act, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said he would “assure” a Senate vote on the legislation, despite Senate Democrats’ opposition to holding such a vote. “The Democratic leadership in the Senate doesn’t want to vote on this bill,” McConnell said. “But I assure you, we will.”
During an appearance on Alaska’s KTVA just moments after McConnell made his remarks, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) broke with her party leadership and said that even though she would vote to repeal the law, the Senate should not spend its time on “messaging” and should instead focus on more pressing economic issues:
MURKOWSKI: I don’t believe that there are votes sufficient in the Senate to repeal health care reform….We’re in this situation where there is some messaging going on…The real question is how much time do we as a Congress spend on this messaging? We’ve got a situation where our economy continues to be in the tank, the longest extended period of high unemployment since World War II….As important as making sure that we’re reigning in our health care costs — spending a lot of time on the messaging vote? I don’t think that’s what the American public wants us to do. …I don’t think what people want is kind of the messaging that’s going on.
Indeed, following the House passage of repeal, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), who controls the Senate schedule, condemned the repeal and reiterated — through a spokesperson — that he would not bring the measure to a vote. “This is nothing more than partisan grandstanding at a time when we should be working together to create jobs and strengthen the middle class,” he said in a statement (voicing a sentiment that Murkwoski apparently agrees with).
Murkowski has been on a bit of an independent streak after being disavowed by the Republican party for mounting a successful re-election campaign as a write-in candidate. At the end of last year, she was the only Republican “to cast votes on all four items on President Barack Obama’s wish list: a repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” a tax-cut compromise, the START deal and cloture for the DREAM Act.