GOP ObamaCare fight faces do-or-die procedural vote – The Hill
Time is ticking away on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellGOP ObamaCare fight faces do-or-die procedural vote Conservative groups hammer Senate healthcare reform bill The Memo: Trump seeks to put his stamp on nation MOREâs hopes of passing ObamaCare repeal legislation before the July 4 recess.
A CBO score that found the legislation would leave 22 million more people without insurance in the next decade has raised the stakes on a procedural vote that could come as soon as Tuesday.
At least four Republicans say they may vote against their party on the motion to proceed, underscoring the opposition to McConnellâs bill.
The defectors include centrist Sen. Susan CollinsSusan CollinsGOP ObamaCare fight faces do-or-die procedural vote The Memo: Trump seeks to put his stamp on nation Johnson becomes fourth GOP senator unwilling to proceed on healthcare bill MORE (Maine), who panned the bill on TwitterÂ MondayÂ evening; fellow moderate Sen. Dean HellerDean HellerGOP ObamaCare fight faces do-or-die procedural vote The Memo: Trump seeks to put his stamp on nation Heller under siege, even before healthcare MORE (R-Nev.); and two conservatives, Sens. Rand PaulRand PaulGOP ObamaCare fight faces do-or-die procedural vote Conservative groups hammer Senate healthcare reform bill The Memo: Trump seeks to put his stamp on nation MORE (R-Ky.) and Ron JohnsonRon JohnsonGOP ObamaCare fight faces do-or-die procedural vote Conservative groups hammer Senate healthcare reform bill The Memo: Trump seeks to put his stamp on nation MORE (R-Wis.).
McConnell can only afford two defections.A loss on the procedural vote would certainly end work on the measure this week, and it could be a brutal blow to getting the legislation through the Senate on a later timeframe.
Despite the uphill climb, McConnellâs lieutenants on Monday voiced optimism.
âIâm very optimistic, yes,â Senate Republican Whip John CornynJohn CornynGOP ObamaCare fight faces do-or-die procedural vote Conservative groups hammer Senate healthcare reform bill Senate adds penalty for going uninsured to healthcare bill MORE (R-Texas) told reporters when asked if he still stood by his guarantee from a week ago that the legislation would muster 50 votes.
But Cornyn isnât saying when the vote will take place.
If GOP leaders can wrangle the votes, it will happen Tuesday. If they canât get it Tuesday, they will try for Wednesday.
And if that doesnât work, it may get pushed to beyond the July 4 recess, which would give opponents time to pressure GOP senators over the holiday break.
âWe may not know if we have the votes to pass it until we bring it up,â said Senate Republican Conference Chairman John ThuneJohn ThuneGOP ObamaCare fight faces do-or-die procedural vote Four GOP senators will vote against taking up healthcare bill without changes Week ahead in tech: Lawmakers turn focus to self-driving cars MORE (R-S.D.), the third-ranking member of the GOP leadership.
Rank-and-file Republican senators realize that they have limited time to further mold the legislation and once the motion to proceed passes, kicking off 20 hours of debate and a flurry of amendments in the Senateâs vote-a-rama process, the proceedings will become harried and hectic.
GOP leaders are confident the rebels will come around if given the right concessions â or at least the chance to claim a victory to constituents back home.
Paul is the only senator whoâs viewed as a certain no.
He has said for months that he does not support creating a new system of tax credits to funnel federal dollars to insurance companies to help low-income people buy insurance. He argues this would set up a new entitlement that he calls âObamaCare Lite.â
The junior Kentucky senator hopes to broker a deal to repeal parts of ObamaCare that all Republicans agree should go, even if they make up a small part of the controversial deal.
The other lawmakers are considered in play, despite their posturing in the days ahead of key floor votes.
John Weaver, a Republican strategist and former senior advisor to Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), who opposes the Senate bill, said it would be very difficult for conservatives to kill the legislation â especially on a procedural vote.
Johnson, Lee and Sen. Ted CruzTed CruzGOP ObamaCare fight faces do-or-die procedural vote Conservative groups hammer Senate healthcare reform bill The Memo: Trump seeks to put his stamp on nation MORE (R-Texas) are demanding regulatory reforms for their votes, which risks upsetting the political balance that has kept moderates on board so far.
But conservatives would face a backlash if they blowup the ObamaCare repeal and replace effort, Weaver said.
âTheir demands are tougher to meet but the political pressure on them to support it is greater. I think thatâs why theyâll support it,â he said.
One Republican source close to McConnell noted that Johnson ran for office as a long-shot Tea Party candidate in 2010 in response to the conservative outcry over ObamaCare.
âRon Johnson ran for political office to repeal ObamaCare. I canât believe he won a second term to prevent that from happening,â said the source.
Another group of Republicans, Sens. Rob PortmanRob PortmanGOP ObamaCare fight faces do-or-die procedural vote GOP super-PAC promises big spending in 2018 Five takeaways from the CBO score on Senate ObamaCare bill MORE (R-Ohio), Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Moore CapitoGOP ObamaCare fight faces do-or-die procedural vote Five takeaways from the CBO score on Senate ObamaCare bill Trump phones Senate holdouts on GOP healthcare bill MORE (R-W.Va.) and Cory GardnerCory GardnerGOP ObamaCare fight faces do-or-die procedural vote Koch political leader says GOP healthcare bill not conservative enough Motorcycle officer in Pence motorcade injured after crash MORE (R-Colo.), are worried about phasing out generous federal funding of expanded Medicaid enrollment. They met with leaders in McConnellâs Capitol officeÂ MondayÂ evening to extract last-minute changes.
âJust continue to talk about ways that we can assure that weâre bringing down costs and understand the analysis thatâs going to show that,â Gardner said after the meeting.
Placating moderates such as Collins, Heller, Portman and Capito could come down to guaranteeing resources for constituents who face the biggest potential impact, such as people who rely on Medicaid to treat opioid addiction.
While the Congressional Budget Office score releasedÂ MondayÂ projected that there would be 22 million more people without insurance by 2026 because of the legislation, it contained some good news, too.
The score estimated that premiums, a major concern of Johnson and other GOP critics, would lower average premiums after 2020 relative to projections under current law.
It also projected the bill would reduce the federal deficit by $321 billion over the next decade, considerably more than the House version.
That gives McConnell room to make concessions to wavering moderates in the form of extra spending for constituents who could be hardest hit, such as low-income seniors in rural areas or families struggling with opioid addiction.
âI think weâll have some additional work to do,â Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) told reporters, noting âthereâs enough excess revenueâ above the House bill to make significant concessions. Â