A Senate Democrat from New Jersey may be the key for President Donald Trump to succeed in getting Obamacare repealed. Sen. Bob Menendez will finally go to trial on corruption charges and the judge has already ruled he must be in the courtroom at all times because the court won’t recess so he can jet to Washington for a vote.
That means Senate Republicans have enough votes to repeal the heath program even if Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) continues his opposition, a move he likely will retain in the wake of Trump’s recent criticisms of him.
If Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) manages to keep all his other 48 troops in line, he would have the 49 votes necessary to reach a 49-49 tie and Vice President Mike Pence would break the tie with a yes vote.
As Obamacare costs continue escalate, the public crescendo to fix or get rid of the healthcare albatross is certain to intensify. Federal lawmakers felt constituent heat over Obamacare for the past five weeks and they are likely ready to act. They return from their summer vacation Sept. 6, the same day Menendez must be in court for a trial that could last several months.
The corruption charges are devastating for a politician — although they are par for the course in New Jersey. Prosecutors contend Menendez used his office to help a friend, Florida eye specialist Dr. Salomon Melgen, in exchange for $700,000 in contributions that Melgen made to political committees that helped the senator win reelection in 2012.
Menendez was indicted in April 2015 but legal maneuvers stalled the trial until now. The timing could not be more convenient for the Trump administration and its effort to scrap Obamacare, the fiasco that has been gnawing at the American pocketbook for five years now.
Melgen was convicted on 67 corruption charge against him in Florida last April — prosecutors said he was central to a massive scheme to rob Medicare out of as much as $105 million. His sentencing has been postponed so he can testify at the Menendez trial. If he turns tables on his old pal for a more lenient sentence, it’s goodbye for Menendez.
That would allow New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie to appoint someone to the Senate until the November 2018 election. Christie likely would name a Republican and could even appoint himself under that state’s law. He’s term-limited as governor and has nothing to lose. And, given the current political atmosphere, Christie could even be reelected to the Senate despite his checkered career.
All this is enough to give Democrats and liberals peptic ulcers.