Senate GOP spat: Alexander versus Hatch

Sen. Lamar Alexander’s efforts to craft a bipartisan bill to shore up Obamacare are drawing “hostile fire” from a fellow Republican Senate committee chairman, reports Politico.

Alexander is “stealing our jurisdiction,” Senate Finance Chairman Sen. Orrin Hatch told POLITICO, referring to the turf split between his panel and Alexander’s HELP Committee. “It’s pretty hard to get excited about what he’s doing.”

…(Hatch has called Alexander’s plan) a “bailout” of insurance companies that “would do little more than shore up the bad policies already in place with another slate of bad policies.”

..The dispute tracks the GOP philosophical rift on Obamacare: Alexander argues the GOP has a responsibility to protect Americans from a collapsing health care market. Hatch, in a sentiment echoed by Senate leaders Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn, are skeptical of repairing the Democrats’ faulty law without significant structural changes.

“He’s got a very broad jurisdiction but it isn’t as broad as he sometimes thinks,” the Utah Republican said of his colleague. “That doesn’t mean he can’t do legislation that’s outside of his jurisdiction — he can. But if he’s doing it, it ought to at least be something he runs by us.”

Alexander argues the policy is more important than the jurisdiction.

“The jurisdiction, I think, should be of secondary importance to the people of this country who can’t afford a $1,000 or $1,500 increase in their premiums,” the Tennessee Republican said. “The Finance Committee is free to deal with these same issues if it would like to. And they could have a hearing on the Graham-Cassidy bill if that’s a better option.”

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Former Knoxville News Sentinel capitol bureau chief Tom Humphrey writes about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.
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