The Hill’s Whip List: Decision time on Senate ObamaCare repeal bill

Senate GOP leaders lack the votes to pass their revised bill to repeal and replace ObamaCare, with four Republicans opposing the bill.

Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) on Monday announced their opposition, joining Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine).

The second bill included changes to win more support from conservatives and centrist Republicans, but moderates withheld their support over cuts to Medicaid. And an amendment from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) to allow insurers to sell some plans that didn’t meet ObamaCare requirements won over conservatives but worried centrists.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was also forced to delay the vote, planned for this week, after Sen. John McCain announced he would be in Arizona recovering from a surgery.

McConnell had little room for error. With only a 52-vote majority he could only afford two defections. All Democrats are expected to oppose any repeal bill, but Vice President Pence could be called in to break the tie.

Here’s a look at where McConnell’s conference stands on the legislation. The Hill will be updating this list.

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Last updated at 10:22 p.m. July 17.


No (4)

Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) — Collins said Thursday she would not vote to proceed on the new bill. “My strong inclination and current intention is to vote no on the motion to proceed,” she told reporters. “The only way I’d change my mind is if there’s something in the new bill that wasn’t discussed or that I didn’t fully understand or the CBO estimate comes out and says they fixed the Medicaid cuts, which I don’t think that’s going to happen.” Collins opposed the first bill after seeing the CBO score and said it would take a “complete overhaul” for her to get to yes.

Sen. Mike Lee (Utah) — The conservative joined Paul, Johnson and Cruz in a statement opposing the first bill. On Monday night, he said he will not vote on the motion to proceed, saying, “In addition to not repealing all of the Obamacare taxes, it doesn’t go far enough in lowering premiums for middle class families; nor does it create enough free space from the most costly Obamacare regulations.”

Sen. Jerry Moran (Kan.) — Moran announced his opposition to the first bill after leaders delayed the vote. On Monday night, he teamed up with Lee to say he’ll oppose the motion to proceed. “This closed-door process has yielded the [bill], which fails to repeal the Affordable Care Act or address healthcare’s rising costs. For the same reasons I could not support the previous version of this bill, I cannot support this one,” he said in a statement. 

Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) — Paul is McConnell’s fellow home-state senator but is a hard get. Paul has said he will oppose the revised bill, believing it leaves much of ObamaCare in place. He’s also floated repealing ObamaCare now and having senators pass a replacement bill later.


Undecided/Unclear (21)

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.) — Capito said she does not know if she’ll vote to advance the new bill. “We have another meeting this afternoon on the Medicaid cuts,” she said Thursday. “I need to really look at it, look at the score, I still have concerns.” She has expressed concerns the first bill did not do enough to combat opioid abuse and cut Medicaid too deeply. Capito told Politico during the July Fourth recess that she will kill the repeal bill if it comes down to her. “If I have to be that one person, I will be it.”

Sen. Bill Cassidy (La.) — Cassidy won headlines when he talked about how the bill needed to pass a “Jimmy Kimmel test” on whether it would prevent children with pre-existing conditions from getting coverage. Cassidy on Thursday said he was not sure if he would vote to advance the revised bill. Cassidy has worked with Collins on alternate legislation.

Sen. Bob Corker (Tenn.) — Corker was undecided on the first bill.

Sen. Steve Daines (Mont.) — “I look forward to hearing directly from Montanans on this legislation,” Daines said about the first bill.

Sen. Joni Ernst (Iowa)  Ernst did not take a position on Senate Republicans’ first healthcare reform bill and said she was polling her constituents to gauge their feelings on it.

Sen. Jeff Flake (Ariz.) — Flake is up for reelection in 2018. He said he would “thoroughly read and review it” after the first bill’s release.

Sen. Cory Gardner (Colo.) — “If we can have opportunities to make the bill better, then by all means let’s take every chance and (all the) time we can,” he said of the first bill, according to the Denver Post.

Sen. Dean Heller (Nev.) — Heller said he is undecided on the revised bill. “I’m going to take a look at the bill,” he said Thursday. “We’ll read it over the weekend and come up with a decision and see if there’s any improvements.” He strongly opposed the initial bill, raising concerns about the phaseout of the Medicaid expansion. Heller is viewed as the most vulnerable GOP senator up for reelection next year, so his vote will be closely watched.

Sen. John Hoeven (N.D.) — Hoeven “doesn’t support the bill as it stands,” according to The Bismarck Tribune over the July 4 recess.

Sen. Ron Johnson (Wis.) — Johnson joined three of his colleagues in opposing the first bill. He said on July 17 that he was now undecided on the revised bill. He said he had heard from colleagues that McConnell had told some senators that efforts to scale back Medicaid wouldn’t go into effect.

McConnell pushed back on that claim, saying he backed the cuts in the bill.

Sen. Johnny Isakson (Ga.) — Isakson was undecided on the first bill, saying that he was “fully and thoroughly reviewing it.”

Sen. James Lankford (Okla.) — Lankford told CNN that he has found six areas where he has “problems and suggestions” on the first bill, adding “none of them are showstoppers … but there are problems we need to fix before we get this into law.” 

Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) — McCain expressed concerns with the revised bill Thursday and said measures important to his home state had been left out. But he said he would vote to begin debate.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) — Along with Collins, Murkowski has suggested she might not back a bill that defunds Planned Parenthood. After the revised bill was released, she suggested addressing Medicaid reform separate from ObamaCare repeal. “Let’s leave Medicaid off the table for right now. Let’s bifurcate this,” she said. “This is not something that in my view is best done in a reconciliation process.”

Sen. David Perdue (Ga.) — Perdue was undecided on the first bill, saying he wanted to read it “in detail.”

Sen. Rob Portman (Ohio) — Portman Thursday was unclear on whether he would vote to advance the revised bill. “I’m the same position I’ve been in. I’m looking at the language,” he said. Portman, along with Capito, opposed the first bill, saying it did not do enough to address the opioid epidemic. He has also expressed concerns about the cuts to Medicaid.

Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) — After the first bill was released, Rubio’s office said he would “decide how to vote on health care on the basis of how it impacts Florida.” 

Sen. Ben Sasse (Neb.) Sasse said he was not committed to the Senate GOP’s first ObamaCare repeal bill. Sasse told conservative donors at a conference the bill was “largely a Medicaid reform package,” according to Vox. “This is not a full repeal or full replace piece of legislation, and that’s dictated by a whole bunch of circumstances. So we are having a conversation about something that’s much smaller than that.”

Sen. Dan Sullivan (Alaska) — In a statement after the first bill was released, Sullivan said he “will read every word” of it, looking closely at stabilizing the state’s insurance market, cutting costs and “providing a sustainable and equitable path forward for Medicaid.”

Sen. Thom Tillis (N.C.) — Tillis has said the Senate’s bill needs to be a “net improvement” over ObamaCare.

Sen. Todd Young (Ind.) — Young was undecided on the first bill but told a group in his home state that “doing nothing is not an option.”


Yes/Leaning Yes (18)

Sen. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) — Alexander praised nearly a dozen measures in the first bill he thought benefitted his state. “To begin with, the draft Senate health care bill makes no change in the law protecting people with pre-existing conditions, no change in Medicare benefits, and increases Medicaid funding — that’s TennCare — at the rate of inflation,” he said in a statement. 

Sen. John Barrasso (Wyo.) — Barrasso touted the first bill during an interview with Fox News. “That’s the only way we can fundamentally change away from Obamacare, get rid of all the hated mandates and the taxes and put Medicaid on a sustainable course long-term, get down the costs of care and insurance,” he said.

Sen. Roy Blunt (Mo.) — Blunt praised the first bill, saying it “preserves access to care for people with pre-existing conditions, strengthens Medicaid and does not change Medicare, gives people more health insurance choices, and allows people to stay on their family health insurance plan until they are 26.” 

Sen. Richard Burr (N.C.) — Burr said the initial bill was “not perfect” but “does provide the funding we need to support our most vulnerable North Carolinians.”

Sen. John Cornyn (Texas) — Cornyn is the No. 2 Senate Republican. “The time to close the book on Obamacare is now. Our plan will help deliver access to better care at a price the American people can actually afford,” he said of the initial repeal bill.

Sen. Mike Crapo (Idaho) — Crapo praised the first repeal bill “as a promising step toward maintaining affordable care.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas) — Cruz told reporters on Thursday he would back the new bill that includes an amendment from him to allow insurers to sell plans that don’t meet ObamaCare requirements. “If this is the bill, I will support this bill,” Cruz said. But he cautioned, “Now, if it’s amended and we lose the protections that lower premiums, my view could well change.”

Sen. Mike Enzi (Wyo.) — Enzi praised the initial legislation in a statement, saying that “after months of hard work, Senate Republicans are proposing solutions to address the challenges to health care created by Obamacare that are affecting millions of hardworking families.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) — Graham said he was leaning toward supporting the first bill, but acknowledged its CBO score would cost it votes.

Sen. Mitch McConnell (Ky.) — The Senate majority leader said Republicans “believe we have a responsibility to act and we are for our constituents, for our states and for our country” when he unveiled the first bill.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah) 

Sen. Pat Roberts (Kan.) — Roberts had said he wanted get feedback from his state, but also offered a strong endorsement of the first bill.

Sen. Mike Rounds (S.D.) — Rounds called the first bill a “step in the right direction” Thursday. 

Sen. Tim Scott (S.C) — “I’m close to yes,” Scott told reporters on the first bill.

Sen. Richard Shelby (Ala.) — Shelby told Bloomberg on the initial bill: “I’m going to support this bill. I want to see all the details.”

Sen. John Thune (S.D.) — The No. 3 GOP senator said in a statement that the first bill “isn’t perfect” but “represents a far better and more responsible approach to caring for the American people than the 2700-page disaster that is Obamacare.”

Sen. Pat Toomey (Pa.) — Toomey called the bill a “first step” toward repealing ObamaCare. “Some of my conservative friends who are concerned that the bill doesn’t go far enough. I am sympathetic about the kinds of reforms they would like to make to lower premiums through more market forces and greater freedom on the part of consumers, but I see this bill as a first step,” he said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” Sunday. “It’s not the last step.”

Sen. Roger Wicker (Miss.) — Wicker said the initial bill “represents another step to move us away from the unworkable aspects of Obamacare and toward a smaller government approach.”

Tags Bob Corker Cory Gardner Dean Heller Jeff Flake Jerry Moran John Barrasso John Cornyn John Hoeven John McCain John Thune Johnny Isakson Lamar Alexander Lindsey Graham Lisa Murkowski Marco Rubio Mike Crapo Mike Enzi Mike Lee Mitch McConnell Orrin Hatch Pat Roberts Rand Paul Richard Burr Rob Portman Roger Wicker Ron Johnson Shelley Moore Capito Susan Collins Ted Cruz Thom Tillis Tim Scott Todd Young

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