Where the Senate health care bill stands ahead of the July 4th recess
iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — As most senators have now returned home to celebrate the Fourth of July holiday, they will have some time to ponder the next steps in the ongoing health care debate.
Some senators returning to their states may be facing tough questions from angry constituents during the break. That was the case for Sen. John Hoeven, R-ND, who spoke with a number of unhappy callers during a radio “town hall” today.
One caller asked why Republicans “didn’t have an ‘A plan’ coming in the door,” given that they had seven years of a Republican-dominated Congress that could have been spent drafting a repeal bill in anticipation of the party taking the White House in the 2016 election.
“I think we have a lot of ideas to get to a good plan, and again, it’s going to be a process,” Hoeven responded.
Potentially complicating matters is the prospect of moving past the proposed plan and completely repealing Obamacare before coming up with a replacement.
That was a suggestion that Trump endorsed via Twitter on Friday, writing that the Senate “should immediately REPEAL, and then REPLACE at a later date!”
While that idea is supported by some key Republicans — like Senators Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Ben Sasse, R-Neb. — it isn’t backed by one key person at the very top: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
McConnell said on Friday that while it’s still challenging to develop a replacement plan that is well-liked, “we are going to stick with that path.”
The Associated Press reported that McConnell told a group of Republicans in Elizabethtown, Kentucky that “failure has to be possible or you can’t have success.”
According to ABC News’ last whip count on July 27, there were at least nine GOP senators who had publicly said that they would not vote for the current version of the Senate bill. With no Democratic support, there can only be two Republican holdouts if the bill is to pass a Senate vote.
One key holdout, Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., who has voiced his opposition to the health care bill, met with Vice President Mike Pence, Senate leadership and the Trump Administration in dozens of meetings over the past several days to propose solutions to improve the bill, his spokeswoman Megan Taylor tells ABC News in a statement.
“For him — it’s not about getting to a ‘yes,’ it’s about improving the legislation to lower costs for Nevada families and business while protecting Nevada’s most vulnerable,” Taylor said.
“Senator Heller recognizes that Obamacare is a disaster and it needs to be replaced, but the Senate’s draft bill needs changes to be right for Nevada,” she said.
The Senate returns to Washington the week of July 10.
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