Cornyn floats conference of House, Senate healthcare bills

Cornyn floats conference of House, Senate healthcare bills
© Keren Carrion

The Senate’s No. 2 Republican said the two chambers might conference their ObamaCare repeal-and-replace bills.

“Initially there was some thought that maybe the House would take up the bill that we passed, but that may not be the case,” Senate Majority Whip John CornynJohn CornynNew GOP ObamaCare repeal bill gains momentum Week ahead: Senators near deal to stabilize ObamaCare markets GOP eying 'blue slip' break to help Trump fill the courts MORE (R-Texas) told reporters Monday.

Cornyn’s first problem is getting an ObamaCare repeal-and-replace bill through the Senate, something that seems increasingly unlikely.

ADVERTISEMENT
Republicans have struggled to win the 50 votes necessary to advance debate. The Senate is scheduled to vote on bringing up the House-passed ObamaCare repeal bill on Tuesday, but it is unclear what will happen next.

McConnell could choose to amend the House-passed bill with a a clean ObamaCare repeal with a two-year delay, or a repeal-and-replace bill that has fractured the GOP conference.

Several senators have expressed concerns over voting to begin debate when they don't know what will be voted on next.

If the Senate does pass a repeal-and-replace bill, a conference committee could be convened to let the chambers reconcile the differences between their bills. Then, both chambers would need to pass the bill again.

When asked if going to conference was a selling point for members, Cornyn said, “I think if you want to get a result that may be a selling point.”

“We used to do conferences around here ... but lately we haven't done that,” Cornyn said.

“Then the people who are worried about what the final conference report looks like will have the confidence knowing that it's going to require 50 votes to vote for a conference report — plus the vice president — so they have the ultimate protection that they know what's going to be in the bill, and they can pass it or assure its defeat.”