Week ahead: GOP leaders hope to keep momentum for ObamaCare repeal

Week ahead: GOP leaders hope to keep momentum for ObamaCare repeal
© Greg Nash

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellCruz: Tax reform chances ‘drop significantly’ if healthcare fails Parliamentarian deals setback to GOP repeal bill OPINION | How Democrats stole the nation's lower federal courts MORE (R-Ky.) was forced to delay a planned vote on the GOP ObamaCare repeal and replace bill initially planned for this week.

McConnell put off the vote after Sen. John McCainJohn McCainSen. Flake's GOP challenger: McCain should resign The Hill's 12:30 Report Armed Services leaders appoint strategy panel members MORE (R-Ariz.) on Saturday announced he would be out for the week as he recovers from a surgery. McCain's absence left Republicans without the votes needed to advance the legislation.

Leaders could face a tough task keeping their momentum. Republicans already have little room for error as they try to get a repeal bill to President Trump's desk.

A revised draft released Thursday didn't make any changes to the bill's Medicaid cuts and the rollback of ObamaCare's expansion of the program, meaning several moderates still aren't ready to support the bill. 

McConnell met with Republican Sens. Lisa MurkowskiLisa MurkowskiPro-ObamaCare group targets key senators in new ads The GOP Wonder Women who saved healthcare for 22 million Senate heads to new healthcare vote with no clear plan MORE (Ala.), Dean HellerDean HellerPro-ObamaCare group targets key senators in new ads Overnight Healthcare: CBO predicts 22M would lose coverage under Senate ObamaCare replacement 40 million fewer people expected to vote in 2018, study finds MORE (Nev.), Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Moore CapitoPro-ObamaCare group targets key senators in new ads Senate heads to new healthcare vote with no clear plan OPINION | GOP healthcare attack is a vendetta against President Obama MORE (W.Va.) and Rob PortmanRob PortmanOPINION | They told us to abandon ObamaCare — then came the resistance Regulatory experts push Senate leaders for regulatory reform Conservative group to give GOP healthcare holdouts ‘Freedom Traitors Award’ MORE (Ohio) to discuss Medicaid Thursday afternoon but it's unclear if they made any progress. 

Leaders don't have a vote to spare on the motion to proceed after two Republicans, Sens. Susan CollinsSusan CollinsSunday shows preview: Scaramucci makes TV debut as new communication chief The GOP Wonder Women who saved healthcare for 22 million Senate heads to new healthcare vote with no clear plan MORE (Maine) and Rand PaulRand PaulSunday shows preview: Scaramucci makes TV debut as new communication chief The Hill's 12:30 Report Senate heads to new healthcare vote with no clear plan MORE (Ky.) said they will vote against it

The two on Sunday expressed pessimism that the bill would pass the upper chamber.

It's unclear how McConnell will try to win over the moderates. If he makes any more concessions, he could lose the support of conservatives who came on board after the GOP leader added an amendment from Sen. Ted CruzTed CruzCruz: Tax reform chances ‘drop significantly’ if healthcare fails Ex-CBO directors defend against GOP attacks on ObamaCare analysis Cruz: GOP will 'look like fools' if ObamaCare isn’t repealed MORE (Texas).

Any further changes would also need analyzed by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), potentially delaying the vote even further in the face of pressure from the White House. 

A CBO score on the revised bill was expected Monday, but will also be delayed.

Moderates have also been leery of Cruz's amendment, which would allow insurers to sell plans that don't comply with ObamaCare's strict insurer requirements.

These plans would be cheaper but cover less and appeal to younger, healthy people who don't use as much healthcare. 

A condition of offering these plans is insurers must also sell plans that meet ObamaCare requirements.

These plans would likely become much more expensive than they are now since less healthy people and more sick people will purchase them, experts and insurers say. 

The conclusion from the CBO could be the determining factor on how Republican holdouts vote and the delayed vote could give the scorekeeper more time to review the Cruz amendment.

Republicans are facing pressure from the White House to pass repeal before the August recess, which McConnell has already delayed for two weeks in the Senate. 

Trump said Friday in a tweet that Senate Republicans "must come through as they have promised" on repeal.

Lawmakers will also be busy working on spending bills in the coming week.

The House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday will mark up the fiscal 2018 Health and Human Services Budget, which includes a  $1.1 billion funding bump for the National Institutes of Health (NIH.)

Also on Capitol Hill, the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing called "Examining Bipartisan Legislation to improve the Medicare Program" Thursday at 10 a.m.

 

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