Hatch to play big role in Senate debate over health care

Now that the House has gutted Obamacare, handing Pres. Trump a major political victory, the debate moves to the Senate, where Orrin Hatch’s clout among his colleagues will be instrumental in driving support for any measure the chamber considers. Hatch’s goal, reports Roll Call, is to make sure that Republicans don’t over-promise and under-deliver in their attempts to overhaul the U.S. health care system.

Joe Williams:

Competing interests among Senate Republicans could significantly complicate efforts to partially repeal and replace the 2010 health care law. But despite the influence individual members will have, two have enhanced sway among their colleagues: Orrin G. Hatch of Utah and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee.

While leadership is expected to have a heavy hand in the process, the two senior lawmakers, as chairmen of the committees of jurisdiction, will be instrumental in driving support for any measure the chamber considers. Jockeying between the two panels over authority, however, could be a detriment to any serious attempts at an overhaul of the U.S. health care system.

The legislation being considered in the House is widely expected to change significantly in the Senate, and coordination between Hatch and Alexander will be critical. The two wield enormous influence over any health care legislation — Hatch as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and Alexander as leader of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions panel. And while members do not expect the measure to go through the formal committee process, the opinions of Hatch and Alexander carry significant weight.

“If they oppose something, it’s not going to happen, that’s the respect they command in the conference. On the other hand, if they are behind it, people will take a second look even if initially they were not sure,” Louisiana GOP Sen. Bill Cassidy said.