Washington — Now what?

Senate Republicans were scrambling to pick up the pieces Tuesday after their attempt to repeal and replace the Obama-era health care law collapsed a second time.

A look at what could come next:

One more time

If Senate Republicans can’t round up the votes to repeal the health care law, they have several options. They can keep talking among themselves in an attempt to come up with another Republican-only plan.

This strategy has been unsuccessful so far because, with 52 members, Senate Republicans can only afford to lose two votes.

Conservatives and moderates in the House managed to bridge their differences and narrowly pass a bill. Since then, the president has called the House measure “mean” and Senate Republicans have been unable to rally around a replacement.

Hello, Democrats

Senate Republicans can work with Democrats on ways to improve the program, but this would be a difficult marriage to arrange.

Republicans say they are committed to repealing Obama’s health care law, which is a nonstarter for Democrats. Democrats say they are open to improving the program, but that would fall well-short of Republican campaign promises.

“Rather than repeating the same failed partisan process yet again, Republicans should work with Democrats on a bill that lowers premiums, provides long-term stability to the markets and improves our health care system,” Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York said.

Cut and run to tax reform

Congressional Republicans could drop health care and move on to overhauling the nation’s tax code, but they will probably run into many of the same problems.

Republicans might find that they could use help from Democrats in tackling a tax overhaul as well.

So far, Republicans are excluding Democrats from tax talks, just like they have on health care. But Republicans’ slim majority in the Senate isn’t going to get any bigger before the 2018 midterm elections, and it could get smaller after that.

Taxes are likely to cause just as many divisions among Republicans as health care, both ideological differences and regional ones.

For example, House Republicans and Trump have proposed eliminating the federal deduction for state and local taxes to help pay for lower overall income tax rates for everyone. Eliminating the deduction would raise about $1.3 trillion over the next decade.


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