Lisa Murkowski: GOP Should Work On Economy, Not Health Care Repeal

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) recently expressed skepticism over the current Republican infatuation with repealing President Barack Obama's signature health care law, saying that her party's ultimate goal was unrealistic and that such efforts would be better spent addressing more pressing economic issues.

Here are her comments, from an interview with Alaska's KTVA (transcript from The Wonk Room):

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 reining 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.

While Murkowski said she would indeed vote to repeal the law given a vote in the Senate, she said initiatives to reduce health care costs could be proposed without pressing such an impractical venture. A repeal bill is unlikely to pass the upper chamber and, as an attempt to crack Obama's hallmark legislative achievement, would almost certainly be vetoed even if it did, she noted.

Her candid and realistic stance on this issue is a stark contrast to comments this week from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who announced that he would "assure" a Senate vote on the measure, passed Wednesday by the House.

Murkowski seems to have been paying more attention to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who has signaled his intention to prevent the bill from coming to the floor.

The Alaska Republican's pragmatic tone is perhaps little surprise to those who have followed her through her bruising primary and Senate reelection battle against Tea Party-backed GOP candidate Joe Miller.

As Politico reported after the lame-duck session last year, Murkowski 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."


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