Week ahead: Senate faces difficult path to consensus on healthcare
Lawmakers will be away from Washington in the week ahead, but that doesn’t mean healthcare legislative developments will slow down. Debate has shifted to the Senate, where senators are looking ahead to building consensus.
Senate staff have plans to start writing a draft healthcare bill over the recess to stimulate discussion when senators return.
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) said staff will be putting together base language over recess.
“But there is no final agreement yet,” he said. “This is a process.”
In fact, Republicans are acknowledging that they face a difficult path to getting the 50 votes needed for passage.
“I don’t know how we get to 50 [votes] at the moment. But that’s the goal,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told Reuters in an interview Wednesday. “And exactly what the composition of that [bill] is I’m not going to speculate about because it serves no purpose.”
Democrats are looking to put pressure on lawmakers over the recess by organizing calls and visits to local congressional offices.
The Congressional Budget Office analysis of the House bill, released Wednesday, spurred a renewed emphasis in statements by GOP senators that they are writing their own bill rather than bringing the House-passed bill to the floor.
The CBO analysis found that 23 million more people would be uninsured over a decade under the House healthcare plan, and many people with pre-existing conditions would be priced out of coverage in states that accepted waivers to ObamaCare rules, which are allowed in the bill.
Republicans face a range of thorny issues, including how deeply to cut Medicaid and whether to allow state waivers to ObamaCare pre-existing condition rules.
“As Senator McConnell likes to point out, with 50 Senators needing to agree on this bill, everybody’s in a strong position, so we can’t roll anybody, so we’re going to have to continue to talk about that issue and try to come to consensus,” said Cornyn, the No. 2 Senate Republican, on Thursday when asked about waivers for ObamaCare rules. “There is no consensus yet.”
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