Senate heading for late night ahead of ObamaCare repeal showdown

Senators are gearing up to pull an all-nighter as they head toward a showdown on Republicans’ years-long pledge to repeal and replace ObamaCare.
 
Lawmakers are expected to spend hours on the Senate floor Thursday night and into Friday morning as they sort through hundreds of amendments ahead of a final vote on their healthcare effort.
 
Senators are able to use the free-wheeling marathon session, known as a vote-a-rama, to force a vote on any amendment they want. The hours-long floor fights are frequently used to make members on the other side of the aisle take politically tough votes, creating fodder for the upcoming 2018 midterm election and 2020 election.
 
Marathon sessions frequently stretch into the early morning hours. A vote-a-rama in January that set up the GOP's ability to fast-track an ObamaCare repeal ended after 1 a.m., while another vote-a-rama in 2015 wrapped up after 3 a.m.
 
 
 
The GOP endgame — and whether there were enough votes to get there — remained unclear even in the hours leading up to the chaotic floor drama.
 
Republican senators appear to be coalescing around passing a “skinny repeal” of ObamaCare, and GOP leadership filed its plan late Thursday night.
 
The measure — which would be attached to the House-passed bill that is being used as a vehicle for any Senate action — is expected to include a one-year defunding of Planned Parenthood, a repeal of ObamaCare's individual insurance mandate and at least partial repeal of the employer mandate.
 
But several GOP senators want an assurance that House Republicans will agree to a conference between the two chambers before the Senate has to take its final vote.
 
Republican Sens. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMcCain rips Trump for attacks on press NSA spying program overcomes key Senate hurdle Meghan McCain says her father regrets opposition to MLK Day MORE (Ariz.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamDHS chief takes heat over Trump furor Overnight Defense: GOP chair blames Dems for defense budget holdup | FDA, Pentagon to speed approval of battlefield drugs | Mattis calls North Korea situation 'sobering' Bipartisan group to introduce DACA bill in House MORE (S.C.), Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonGOP senators eager for Romney to join them The House needs to help patients from being victimized by antiquated technology Comey’s original Clinton memo released, cites possible violations MORE (Wis.) and Bill Cassidy (La.) held an elevnth-hour news conference Thursday threatening to vote against the GOP healthcare legislation unless there was a guarantee that the House wouldn’t pass the Senate bill.
 
"There's increasing concern on my part and others that what the House will do is take whatever we pass" and pass it without making changes, Graham said. "The 'skinny bill' as policy is a disaster. The 'skinny bill' as a replacement is a fraud.”
 
If the four senators voted against the bare bones repeal plan, they would be able to kill the legislation. GOP Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsDemocrats search for 51st net neutrality vote Overnight Tech: States sue FCC over net neutrality repeal | Senate Dems reach 50 votes on measure to override repeal | Dems press Apple on phone slowdowns, kids' health | New Android malware found Overnight Regulation: Dems claim 50 votes in Senate to block net neutrality repeal | Consumer bureau takes first step to revising payday lending rule | Trump wants to loosen rules on bank loans | Pentagon, FDA to speed up military drug approvals MORE (Maine) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiSessions torched by lawmakers for marijuana move Calif. Republican attacks Sessions over marijuana policy Trump's executive order on minerals will boost national defense MORE (Alaska) also voted against starting debate on the healthcare bill. Murkowski told reporters that she knows how she will vote, but isn't announcing it ahead of time.
  
Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanGOP leaders pitch children's health funding in plan to avert shutdown Lawmakers see shutdown’s odds rising Fix what we’ve got and make Medicare right this year MORE (R-Wis.) said Thursday evening that the House is "willing" to go to conference, but the onus is on Senate Republicans to first show they can pass something. He vowed that the House would not pass the Senate's "skinny" repeal bill.
 
"Until the Senate can do that, we will never be able to develop a conference report that becomes law. We expect the Senate to act first on whatever the conference committee produces," he said.
 
Ryan also held a call late Thursday evening with five GOP senators, including Johnson and Graham. The move appeared to assuage the two key senators, who told reporters after leaving a meeting in Sen. John CornynJohn CornynMcCarthy: ‘No deadline on DACA’ NSA spying program overcomes key Senate hurdle Hoyer suggests Dems won't support spending bill without DACA fix MORE's (R-Texas) office off the Senate floor that they would vote "yes." 
 
McCain appeared unconvinced ahead of the pair of 8:30 p.m. votes, telling reporters that he is "not satisfied." 
 
Republican senators also said part of the legislative limbo has been caused by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which still needs to release its analysis of key GOP proposals including from Sens. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzWith religious liberty memo, Trump made America free to be faithful again Interstate compacts aren't the right way to fix occupational licensing laws Texas Dem: ‘I don’t know what to believe’ about what Trump wants for wall MORE (R-Texas) and Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanFlake's anti-Trump speech will make a lot of noise, but not much sense Top GOP candidate drops out of Ohio Senate race Overnight Tech: Regulators to look at trading in bitcoin futures | Computer chip flaws present new security problem | Zuckerberg vows to improve Facebook in 2018 MORE (R-Ohio).
 
Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) predicted that lawmakers could be waiting until September to get the CBO’s analysis for all of their proposals, hence why Republicans needed to go to conference and buy themselves more time.
 
The GOP's repeal proposal will face a key test shortly after midnight. Democrats will try to send it to a Senate committee, which would effectively pigeonhole the amendment. If that move fails, as it's expected to, Senate Republicans will vote on attaching it to the House-passed healthcare bill, which is being used as a vehicle for the Senate legislation.
 
As of 7 p.m., fewer than 200 amendments had been filed to the bill, with senators able to continue filing their proposals throughout the night.
 
Democrats have warned they are holding off on offering amendments until Senate Republicans unveil their healthcare endgame.
 
“Democrats will offer no further motions or amendments until we see this 'skinny bill,' but make no mistake, once we do see the bill, we will begin preparing amendments,” Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerDemocrats will need to explain if they shut government down over illegal immigration White House: Trump remarks didn't derail shutdown talks Schumer defends Durbin after GOP senator questions account of Trump meeting MORE (D-N.Y.) said from the Senate floor.
 
The New York Democrat signaled that his caucus will wait until after Republicans vote on the “skinny repeal” amendment to offer their own suggestions.
 
“I want to put my colleagues on both sides of the aisle on notice: My Democratic and Republican colleagues that they should prepare for numerous Democratic amendments if the skinny bill passes. ... It won’t be the last vote,” he said.
  
 
Democrats also want to use the Senate's rulebook to try to stymie GOP proposals, by forcing them to meet 60-vote thresholds and keep their focus on trying on closed-door process to crafting the GOP healthcare bill.
 
Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenWarren: Trump is a 'racist bully' Poll: Oprah would outperform Warren, Harris against Trump in California Democrats continue to dismiss positive impacts of tax reform MORE (D-Mass.) has also filed more than a dozen amendments that would require GOP senators to vote on whether or not to keep provisions in the legislation that could result in higher insurance costs for individuals over the age of 50, low-income individuals or people with serious diseases.
 
Republicans returned some of that fire earlier Thursday, when Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) got a vote on his amendment — which he did not vote for — that would have established a single-payer healthcare system, an idea that has gained traction among the progressive wing of the Democratic Party.
 
Democrats, however, largely voted “present” Thursday on the amendment, which they argued amounted to a political ploy.

Red-state Democratic Sens. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterEMILY’s List president: Franken did 'right thing for Minnesota' Reforming veterans health care for all generations of veterans Trump and Republicans deliver gift that keeps on giving for Americans MORE (Mont.), Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinMcConnell to Dems: Don't hold government 'hostage' over DACA Lawmakers see shutdown’s odds rising Senate campaign fundraising reports roll in MORE (W.Va.), Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampPawlenty opts out of Senate run in Minnesota GOP's Cramer won't run for ND Senate seat GOP Rep. Cramer 'trending' toward ND Senate run MORE (N.D.) and Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyDems search for winning playbook GOP anxious with Trump on trade Blue wave of 2018 stops in Indiana and Missouri MORE (Ind.) — who are each up for reelection in states carried by Trump last year — as well as Independent Sen. Angus KingAngus Stanley KingMcConnell to Dems: Don't hold government 'hostage' over DACA Overnight Regulation: Regulators kill Perry plan to help coal, nuke plants | Senate Dems to force net neutrality vote | Maine senators oppose offshore drilling plan | SEC halts trading in digital currency firm Maine senators oppose Trump's offshore drilling plans MORE (Maine) voted against the single-payer amendment.