Four GOP senators will vote against taking up healthcare bill without changes

Four GOP senators are warning that they will vote against taking up the current version of a bill to repeal and replace ObamaCare, imperiling leadership's push to pass the legislation before the July Fourth recess. 

“On the current bill, I’m not voting to get on it unless it changes before we get to it,” Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulLexington mayor launches bid for Congress Trump-free Kennedy Center Honors avoids politics Meet the Iran hawk who could be Trump's next secretary of State MORE (R-Ky.) told reporters on Monday.

Asked if that meant he would vote “no” on the initial motion to proceed, the Kentucky Republican said “absolutely” and argued that leadership doesn’t currently have the votes it needs.

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Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Health Care: 3.6M signed up for ObamaCare in first month | Ryan pledges 'entitlement reform' next year | Dems push for more money to fight opioids Study: ObamaCare bills backed by Collins would lower premiums Right scrambles GOP budget strategy MORE (R-Maine) also announced on Monday that she would vote against the legislation on its initial hurdle. 

"I want to work w/ my GOP & Dem colleagues to fix the flaws in [the Affordable Care Act]. [The Congressional Budget Office] analysis shows Senate bill won't do it. I will vote no on [motion to proceed]," Collins said on Twitter on Monday evening.

 

Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonOvernight Cybersecurity: Panel pushes agencies on dropping Kaspersky software | NC county won't pay ransom to hackers | Lawmakers sound alarm over ISIS 'cyber caliphate' GOP chairman warns of ISIS's ‘cyber caliphate’ Overnight Finance: House approves motion to go to tax conference — with drama | GOP leaders to consider Dec. 30 spending bill | Justices skeptical of ban on sports betting | Mulvaney won't fire official who sued him MORE (R-Wis.) joined in, telling CNN's Dana Bash on Monday night that if leadership insists on moving the bill this week, he will vote against the motion to proceed. 

 

 

Collins's and Paul's comments come after Sen. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerDems look to use Moore against GOP Senate hearing shows Fed chair nominee acts the part Senate GOP votes to begin debate on tax bill MORE (R-Nev.) warned late last week that he could vote against taking up the bill unless changes were made.

"If this is the bill, if this is the language on that procedural motion on Tuesday, I won't be voting for it," he told reporters in Nevada. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP strategist donates to Alabama Democrat McConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees Brent Budowsky: A plea to Alabama voters MORE (R-Ky.) will need at least 50 Republicans to back taking up the House-passed healthcare bill, which is being used as a vehicle for the upper chamber’s proposal.

McConnell could make changes to the bill before the initial procedural vote, but any move to appease either his conservative or moderate bloc could threaten the support of the other.

The Kentucky Republican stressed earlier Monday that senators should “keep working so that we can move forward with robust floor debate and an open amendment process here on the Senate floor.”

The vote could come as soon as Tuesday, or potentially Wednesday. If each of the three senators vote no, they will have the ability to block any legislation.

Other senators are also warning leadership against taking up the legislation as currently written. 

Johnson warned earlier in the day that it would be a “mistake” to try to move the bill on Tuesday, as he and other conservative senators try to get additional changes made.

“Don’t set yourself up for failure,” he told reporters Monday evening.

Johnson and Paul, as well as GOP Sens. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzDebbie Wasserman Schultz marks 10 years as breast cancer survivor Foreign agent registration is no magical shield against Russian propaganda Let Trump be Trump and he'll sail through 2020 MORE (Texas) and Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeSupreme Court takes on same-sex wedding cake case House approves motion to go to tax conference — with drama Trump really will shrink government, starting with national monuments MORE (Utah), announced last week that they could not support the bill in its current form.

Conn Carroll, a spokesman for Lee, stopped short Monday of saying whether the libertarian-leaning senator would vote against proceeding to the healthcare bill, but said there needed to be changes.  

“There would have to be changes in the base bill for us to vote for a motion to proceed,” he said.

Cruz sidestepped questions from reporters about how he would vote on the initial hurdle but argued that senators needed to do more in the legislation to lower premiums.

GOP leadership has a narrow path for getting a healthcare bill through the Senate. The party can only afford to lose two GOP senators and still rely on Vice President Pence break a tie.

Paul signaled on Monday that in addition to the five GOP senators who are currently opposed to the legislation, he believed there were other conservatives with concerns.

“I think there’s probably a few more that are uncertain,” he said. “[But] so far I’ve gotten not one call from Senate leadership.”

Conservatives want McConnell to move the bill further to the right, with Paul telling reporters that the proposal needed to be “narrow” and include further repeal of ObamaCare's policies.

But that could draw pushback from moderate senators who are already signaling deep concerns about the Senate legislation.

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) told reporters on Monday that he hadn’t thought about how he would vote on the initial procedural hurdle but said senators need answers to their concerns about the legislation before things go too far.

“You know proceeding is a critical question, and so you like to have questions answered before you proceed,” he told reporters.

Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiMcConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees Week ahead: Trump expected to shrink two national monuments GOP on verge of opening Arctic refuge to drilling MORE (R-Alaska), also considered a swing vote, told CNN on Monday that she didn’t have enough information yet about the Senate proposal to make a decision.

“I don’t have enough data ... to be able to vote in the affirmative. I’m trying to get the information,” she said.

The new threat to the Senate legislation comes after the CBO analysis, released earlier Monday, found that the Senate legislation would result in an additional 22 million individuals becoming uninsured by 2026.

The analysis also found that lower financial assistance in this bill compared to ObamaCare would make premiums unaffordable for many low-income people.

The Senate GOP legislation being blocked on a procedural hurdle would mark a serious setback for McConnell after his party campaigned for years on repealing and replacing ObamaCare.

Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneMcConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees Overnight Health Care: 3.6M signed up for ObamaCare in first month | Ryan pledges 'entitlement reform' next year | Dems push for more money to fight opioids Dems push for more money for opioid fight MORE (R-S.D.) downplayed the chances of Republicans bucking leadership and not allowing the initial step in voting on the Senate legislation.

“I would expect on the motion to proceed, it’s procedural that our members would at least let us get on it,” he told reporters. “Obviously everybody wants to exert whatever leverage they can … but I would expect that we would be able to get on it.”

— Updated 9:05 p.m.