How Mike Lee and Matt Bevin Saved the Obamacare Repeal Bill

Conservatives have waited more than five years to deliver an Obamacare repeal bill to President Barack Obama’s desk. And until this week, it appeared that Republicans were about to squander what many conservatives believed was their best shot since the law’s passage.

That changed Monday night. In a closed-door meeting with his Republican colleagues, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell scrapped a House-passed bill and conceded to conservative demands to make the repeal package stronger.

Sources on Capitol Hill and in the conservative movement credited the change to two factors: Sen. Mike Lee’s persistence on using the budget reconciliation process and Kentucky Gov.-elect Matt Bevin’s victory last month after campaigning against his state’s Medicaid expansion.

McConnell, who hails from Kentucky, promised to rip apart Obamacare “root and branch” prior to Republicans’ capturing the Senate in 2014. But when GOP leadership stymied an Obamacare repeal vote in July and the House passed a watered down reconciliation bill in October, it appeared that momentum was on the wrong side of the repeal movement.

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