Senate Republicans push for crucial vote on health care despite lack of support
ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) — They may not have enough support, but Senate Republican leaders are continuing to push forward with a procedural vote on health care legislation.
In what is a pivotal moment for his party’s efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has planned a vote to open up debate on the House health care bill that was passed by a tight margin in May. The vote is so crucial for Republicans that, although he was diagnosed with brain cancer last week, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., is expected to return to the Senate today.
If the bill makes it to the floor, it’s anyone’s guess where the legislation ends up. Most senators don’t know exactly what it is they’re going to be voting on.
The Senate could end up with a version of a replacement plan for Obamacare or the GOP can go the repeal-only route. Sen. Ted Cruz’s amendment to the health care bill – the “Consumer Freedom Amendment” – could also be considered. Cruz’s “bare-bones” amendment would allow insurers to sell plans to consumers that do not include “essential benefits” so long as they offer a plan that does meet Obamacare requirements.
“This morning, [McConnell] informed me that the plan for today is to take up the 2015 clean repeal bill as I’ve urged,” Sen. Paul wrote on Twitter. ”If we cannot pass full, clean 2015 repeal, I’ve also been told we will vote on whatever version of CLEAN repeal we can pass,” Sen. Paul wrote on Twitter.
But Republicans can only afford to lose two votes. Sens. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, have all said they plan on voting against a motion to proceed if the Senate goes the repeal-only route.
If the vote fails, Senate Republicans have several options going forward.
They could return to the drawing board to work on another replacement plan, reach out to Democrats to hash out a bipartisan fix to Obamacare, or move on to tax reform or other legislative items.
President Trump has already put on the pressure on senators in his party.
“For Senate Republicans, this is their chance to keep their promise. Over and over again they said repeal and replace, repeal and replace. But they can now keep their promise to the American people,” Trump said Monday at the White House.
He also argued that “Senate Republicans have not done their job in ending the Obamacare nightmare.”
Trump also said last week during a meeting with all Republican senators that they should not leave for August recess “until this is complete and until we all go over to the Oval Office. I’ll sign it, and we can celebrate for the American people.”
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