Senate turns toward ObamaCare repeal

The Senate is turning toward a fight over repealing large parts of the Affordable Care Act, as Republicans move to fulfill a years-long campaign pledge. 

Sen. Mike EnziMichael (Mike) Bradley EnziProgressives seek defense freeze in budget talks Five takeaways from Trump's budget Trump releases budget calling for 5 percent cuts in domestic spending MORE (R-Wyo.), the chairman of the Budget Committee, filed a resolution that paves the way for repealing ObamaCare on Tuesday shortly after Congress started its work for the year. 
 
"Today, we take the first steps to repair the nation’s broken health care system, removing Washington from the equation and putting control back where it belongs: with patients, their families, and their doctors," he said in a statement. 
 
Lawmakers want to use "reconciliation" to repeal large swaths of the law this year. The procedural maneuver will allow the repeal effort to clear the upper chamber with 50 votes, bypassing a string of 60-vote procedural hurdles. 
 
Tuesday's resolution also gives lawmakers until Jan. 27 to hand over their repeal resolutions. The Senate Budget Committee will be responsible for merging the repeal proposals.
 
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With Republicans holding a 52-seat majority, GOP leaders can only afford to lose two senators before they need to try to flip Democrats or ask the vice president to weigh in on a tie. 
 
Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsRepublicans up for reelection fear daylight with Trump The 25 Republicans who defied Trump on emergency declaration The Hill's Morning Report — Trump readies first veto after latest clash with Senate GOP MORE (R-Maine), a moderate who is up for reelection in 2018, told a local newspaper over the holiday recess that she is undecided about voting to repeal ObamaCare without hashing out a replacement plan.
 

“We’ll see in the next couple of weeks are they willing to negotiate. Right now, I think there’s at least two of us that are saying 'no,' ” Paul told FreedomWorks in a recent interview. “So they don’t have the power to do what they want without my vote.” 

Enzi’s resolution calls for four congressional committees—two in the House and two in the Senate—to find a way to reduce the deficit by $1 billion by 2026. It also allows for a "reserve fund," essentially a legislative placeholder, for a future ObamaCare repeal bill.

Before they can vote on the repeal instructions, senators will have to hold a "vote-a-rama" during which lawmakers can force a vote on any proposal and drag out passage of the budget resolution.

Senate GOP leadership has signaled support for a two- or three-year "off ramp" for ObamaCare that would delay repeal and give lawmakers time to try to agree on a replacement. 

But Paul wrote in an op-ed Monday that he supports repealing and replacing the law simultaneously. 

--This report was updated at 2:44 p.m.