NASHVILLE - Republican U.S. Sens. Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee parted ways Wednesday afternoon on a Senate floor amendment that sought to partially repeal the Affordable Care Act in two years.
Corker voted for the amendment while Alexander voted against it.
"As I have said before, I believe the best path forward is for Congress to repeal Obamacare after a reasonable transition period," Corker said in a statement prior to the vote.
He said the amendment sought to "take us back to a level playing field where, by a date certain, all sides have incentive to work together to develop a health care replacement that would generate broad support and stand the test of time."
Alexander said he agrees with President Donald Trump "that we should repeal and replace major parts of the Affordable Care Act at the same time."
Given problems in the ACA, Alexander said, the country doesn't have time to wait another two years to act.
He said Tennessee Insurance Commissioner Julie McPeak has warned the state's individual market is "near collapse."
Alexander said "we have 350,000 Tennesseans who buy insurance in the individual market. Those are songwriters, small businesspeople, farmers - who are worried today that they may have zero options for insurance in just six months."
Moreover, Alexander argued, "I don't think Tennesseans would be comfortable canceling insurance for 22 million Americans, and trusting Congress to find a replacement in two years. Pilots like to know where they're going to land when they take off, and we should too.
On Tuesday, Corker and Alexander both voted to allow debate on a Republican health bill to proceed.
But they then split Tuesday night on a proposal that called for a repeal and replacement of the ACA. Corker supported that while Alexander opposed it.