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Congress Leaves Washington Empty-Handed on Health Care Reform

The effort by Senate Republicans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was defeated in a dramatic vote on the Senate floor on July 28. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had offered an amendment, referred to as the "skinny" repeal, that would have done away with the individual and employer health insurance mandates, but would have left many other parts of the ACA intact. McConnell was hoping to pass a bill out of the Senate and then begin negotiations with the House of Representatives on a consensus bill. This McConnell amendment lost on a 49-51 vote.  Sens. McCain (R-AZ), Murkowski (R-AK), and Collins (R-ME) voted against the amendment, as did all 48 Democrats (including 2 Independent Senators who usually align with Democrats).

Leadership on both the Senate Finance Committee and Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee announced that they would hold hearings on health care reform in September. The focus of the hearings will likely be limited to stabilizing the insurance market.