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 PaulGOP leader blocks resolution backing intelligence community on Russia Rand Paul blocks Sanders's Russia resolution, calls it 'crazy hatred' against Trump McCain: Trump plays into 'Putin's hands' by attacking Montenegro, questioning NATO obligations 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.

ADVERTISEMENT
Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report — Russia furor grips Washington Overnight Health Care: Novartis pulls back on drug price hikes | House Dems launch Medicare for All caucus | Trump officials pushing ahead on Medicaid work requirements Senate panel to vote next week on banning 'gag clauses' in pharmacy contracts 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 JohnsonJuan Williams: Putin wins as GOP spins GOP senator: Harley-Davidson is right to move some production overseas GOP senator: Trump’s policies doing 'permanent damage' 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 HellerSenate Dems build huge cash edge in battlegrounds Jacky Rosen hits Dean Heller over health care in first negative ad GOP moderates hint at smooth confirmation ahead for Kavanaugh 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 McConnellMcConnell spokesman on Putin visit: 'There is no invitation from Congress' Overnight Defense: Trump inviting Putin to DC | Senate to vote Monday on VA pick | Graham open to US-Russia military coordination in Syria Senate to vote Monday on Trump's VA nominee 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 CruzSenators push to clear backlog in testing rape kits Russia raises problems for GOP candidates Deal to fix family separations hits snag in the Senate MORE (Texas) and Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeWisconsin GOP Senate candidate rips his own parents for donations to Dems GOP moderates hint at smooth confirmation ahead for Kavanaugh GOP senators introduce resolution endorsing ICE 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 MurkowskiThis week: GOP mulls vote on ‘abolish ICE’ legislation Dem infighting erupts over Supreme Court pick McConnell: Senate to confirm Kavanaugh by Oct. 1 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 ThuneSenators share their fascination with sharks at hearing Helsinki summit becomes new flashpoint for GOP anger Senate weighs new Russia response amid Trump backlash 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.