Senate GOP aims to vote next week on ObamaCare repeal

Greg Nash

Senate Republicans plan to try to repeal ObamaCare for a second time next week as Republicans face an end-of-the-month deadline.

“It is the Leader’s intention to consider Graham-Cassidy on the floor next week,” said David Popp, a spokesman for Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

The remarks come after Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told reporters that his bill with Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) would be on the Senate floor next week.


Republicans face an end-of-the-month deadline to pass ObamaCare repeal if they want to avoid a Democratic filibuster, which would require 60 votes to break.

{mosads}It remains unclear if GOP leadership has the 50 votes needed to let Vice President Pence break a tie and pass a bill.

GOP Sens. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), John McCain (Ariz.) and Susan Collins (Maine) are undecided on the legislation. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has said he will oppose it.

The Graham-Cassidy bill would repeal much of ObamaCare, ending funding for Medicaid’s expansion and the healthcare law’s subsidies that help people buy insurance. In their place, block grants would be given to states.

Republicans have been frank about the uphill challenge to nixing the Affordable Care Act, and McConnell has held meetings with key members and hold outs in his office. 
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) expressed support for the bill during a call with Iowa reporters on Wednesday, but also appeared skeptical that it could ultimately get the votes to pass. 
“No, I think we’re one or two votes short and I don’t see those other one or two votes coming,” he said, according to the Des Moines Register. “I hope I’m wrong.”
McConnell’s comments are a turnaround from roughly a day ago when he would not publicly commit to bringing the bill to the floor for a vote. 

Asked if he had decided whether or not to bring the ObamaCare repeal bill to the floor, McConnell had told reporters: “We are in the process of discussing all of this.”

“If we were going to go forward, we would have to act before September 30th,” he added. 

The Senate GOP’s effort to repeal ObamaCare was widely considered dead after a failed vote in late July. While President Trump publicly urged them to try again, Republican leadership and many rank-and-file members said they were ready to move on

But momentum has been building behind Graham-Cassidy.

Graham, stepping up his rhetoric as he tries to pitch his colleagues on the legislation, said on Tuesday that it was a choice between “socialism or federalism.” 

The White House and House GOP leadership has also thrown their weight behind it, with Trump tweeting on Wednesday that the bill is “great.” 

“I hope Republican Senators will vote for Graham-Cassidy and fulfill their promise to Repeal & Replace ObamaCare. Money direct to States!” Trump said.

Other GOP lawmakers have acknowledged that the legislation could represent their last shot at trying to make good on a years-long campaign pledge to repeal and replace ObamaCare. 

“I’m more hopeful now than I have been,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), the No. 2 Senate Republican, told reporters on Tuesday. “It’s sort of like Lazarus raised from the dead.”

Though ObamaCare is deeply unpopular throughout the Senate GOP caucus, leadership is facing a similar problem to the one that ultimately sank their effort in July. 
With a slim 52-seat majority, Republicans need to find a bill that can win over all but two of their caucus, which includes a coalition of moderates as well as conservatives and libertarian-leaning firebrands. 
Any push to move legislation toward one wing of the party over the other could threaten support in other factions. 

This story was edited at 2:35 p.m.

Tags Bill Cassidy Chuck Grassley John Cornyn John McCain Lindsey Graham Lisa Murkowski Mitch McConnell Rand Paul Susan Collins

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