John McCain: GOP Would Need 67 Senate Votes to Repeal Obamacare

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Aug. 14 2013 1:48 PM

John McCain: GOP Would Need 67 Senate Votes to Repeal Obamacare

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John Mccain, pesky realist

Photo by Gianluigi Guercia/AFP/Getty Images

Sen. Ted Cruz is still barnstorming the country, telling conservatives to join his cause (and text their phone numbers to his PAC) if they want to defund Obamacare in the next congressional funding resolution. His fellow Republicans keep souring the broth with their irksome realism. First, Sen. Ron Johnson, a proud member of the Tea Party class of 2010:

Even if we were to not pass the continuing resolution (to fund the federal government), you're not going to be able to defund Obamacare, absent of President Obama signing a law, which I think is highly unlikely. So I appreciate the fact that they've raised the issue. But defunding Obamacare, with President Obama in the White House and Harry Reid in the Senate, I think is next to impossible.

Less surprisingly, when asked about this at a town hall in Tucson, John McCain explained that stopping Obamacare was a laudable cause, but defunding alone wouldn't work at all. "We don't have 67 votes in the Senate," he said, "which is what would be required to overturn a presidential veto."

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The senators are talking past each other. Cruz insists that 41 votes—just enough for a filibuster—would set up a Republican trench war that the party could win. So the story continues, with Cruz continuing to say exactly what the base wants its leaders to say, and ever more Republicans proving that they lack his belly-fire.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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