Sen. Steve Daines is proposing an amendment to the Republican healthcare bill that would implement a government-run, single-payer insurance system in the U.S.
The Montana Republican doesn't support single-payer healthcare. But in a bit of political gamesmanship often seen in Congress, Daines wants to force vulnerable Democratic senators running for re-election in red states in 2018 to take a position on the liberal healthcare policy, which is gaining currency on the Left.
The Senate is considering legislation to partially repeal Obamacare. The floor debate process is poised to enter the amendment phase, during which senators can offer hundreds of proposals to alter the underlying bill. Daines' single-payer amendment is a carbon copy of one offered in the House by Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich.
The Conyers bill, with more than 100 Democratic cosponsors, proposes to create a program the legislation describes as "Medicare for All." According to the bill's language, "all individuals residing in the United States would be covered." To pay for the program, Conyers proposes raising income taxes on the top 5 percent of earners, plus hiking taxes on payroll and self-imployment income, unearned income, and stock and bond transactions.
Democrats who support the bill might vote against the amendment anyway on the grounds that it's a political stunt. Republicans continue to struggle in their effort to pass an Obamacare repeal bill. Their legislation, being considered under special rules that prevent it from being filibustered, can only lose two Republicans and still advance.
Republicans garnered the votes to open debate on their bill on Tuesday, but it was unclear on Wednesday afternoon whether they had the votes to pass something.