Four GOP senators will vote against taking up healthcare bill without changes

Four GOP senators are warning that they will vote against taking up the current version of a bill to repeal and replace ObamaCare, imperiling leadership's push to pass the legislation before the July Fourth recess. 

“On the current bill, I’m not voting to get on it unless it changes before we get to it,” Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulPressure mounts for Trump to reconsider Syria withdrawal House Republicans call for moving State of the Union to Senate chamber GOP rep: 'Rand Paul is giving the president bad advice' on Afghanistan and Syria MORE (R-Ky.) told reporters on Monday.

Asked if that meant he would vote “no” on the initial motion to proceed, the Kentucky Republican said “absolutely” and argued that leadership doesn’t currently have the votes it needs.

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Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Defense: Trump unveils new missile defense plan | Dems express alarm | Shutdown hits Day 27 | Trump cancels Pelosi foreign trip | Senators offer bill to prevent NATO withdrawal McConnell blocks bill to reopen most of government Bipartisan senators reintroduce bill to prevent Trump from withdrawing from NATO MORE (R-Maine) also announced on Monday that she would vote against the legislation on its initial hurdle. 

"I want to work w/ my GOP & Dem colleagues to fix the flaws in [the Affordable Care Act]. [The Congressional Budget Office] analysis shows Senate bill won't do it. I will vote no on [motion to proceed]," Collins said on Twitter on Monday evening.

 

Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonCongress sends bill renewing anti-terrorism program to Trump The Hill's Morning Report — Shutdown fallout — economic distress Hillicon Valley: Republicans demand answers from mobile carriers on data practices | Top carriers to stop selling location data | DOJ probing Huawei | T-Mobile execs stayed at Trump hotel as merger awaited approval MORE (R-Wis.) joined in, telling CNN's Dana Bash on Monday night that if leadership insists on moving the bill this week, he will vote against the motion to proceed. 

 

 

Collins's and Paul's comments come after Sen. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerTrump’s shifting Cabinet to introduce new faces Trump's most memorable insults and nicknames of 2018 Progressive strategist says changing demographics will help Dems MORE (R-Nev.) warned late last week that he could vote against taking up the bill unless changes were made.

"If this is the bill, if this is the language on that procedural motion on Tuesday, I won't be voting for it," he told reporters in Nevada. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTSA agents protest government shutdown at Pittsburgh airport The case for Russia sanctions Pompeo planning to meet with Pat Roberts amid 2020 Senate speculation MORE (R-Ky.) will need at least 50 Republicans to back taking up the House-passed healthcare bill, which is being used as a vehicle for the upper chamber’s proposal.

McConnell could make changes to the bill before the initial procedural vote, but any move to appease either his conservative or moderate bloc could threaten the support of the other.

The Kentucky Republican stressed earlier Monday that senators should “keep working so that we can move forward with robust floor debate and an open amendment process here on the Senate floor.”

The vote could come as soon as Tuesday, or potentially Wednesday. If each of the three senators vote no, they will have the ability to block any legislation.

Other senators are also warning leadership against taking up the legislation as currently written. 

Johnson warned earlier in the day that it would be a “mistake” to try to move the bill on Tuesday, as he and other conservative senators try to get additional changes made.

“Don’t set yourself up for failure,” he told reporters Monday evening.

Johnson and Paul, as well as GOP Sens. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzGroup aiming to draft Beto O’Rourke unveils first 2020 video Howard Dean looking for a 'younger, newer' Democratic nominee in 2020 Congress can stop the war on science MORE (Texas) and Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeHillicon Valley: Trump AG pick signals new scrutiny on tech giants | Wireless providers in new privacy storm | SEC brings charges in agency hack | Facebook to invest 0M in local news AG pick Barr wants closer scrutiny of Silicon Valley 'behemoths' Grassroots political participation is under attack in Utah and GOP is fighting back MORE (Utah), announced last week that they could not support the bill in its current form.

Conn Carroll, a spokesman for Lee, stopped short Monday of saying whether the libertarian-leaning senator would vote against proceeding to the healthcare bill, but said there needed to be changes.  

“There would have to be changes in the base bill for us to vote for a motion to proceed,” he said.

Cruz sidestepped questions from reporters about how he would vote on the initial hurdle but argued that senators needed to do more in the legislation to lower premiums.

GOP leadership has a narrow path for getting a healthcare bill through the Senate. The party can only afford to lose two GOP senators and still rely on Vice President Pence break a tie.

Paul signaled on Monday that in addition to the five GOP senators who are currently opposed to the legislation, he believed there were other conservatives with concerns.

“I think there’s probably a few more that are uncertain,” he said. “[But] so far I’ve gotten not one call from Senate leadership.”

Conservatives want McConnell to move the bill further to the right, with Paul telling reporters that the proposal needed to be “narrow” and include further repeal of ObamaCare's policies.

But that could draw pushback from moderate senators who are already signaling deep concerns about the Senate legislation.

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) told reporters on Monday that he hadn’t thought about how he would vote on the initial procedural hurdle but said senators need answers to their concerns about the legislation before things go too far.

“You know proceeding is a critical question, and so you like to have questions answered before you proceed,” he told reporters.

Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiKaine to force Senate to hold rare Saturday session amid shutdown Senate rejects government-wide ban on abortion funding Senators look for possible way to end shutdown MORE (R-Alaska), also considered a swing vote, told CNN on Monday that she didn’t have enough information yet about the Senate proposal to make a decision.

“I don’t have enough data ... to be able to vote in the affirmative. I’m trying to get the information,” she said.

The new threat to the Senate legislation comes after the CBO analysis, released earlier Monday, found that the Senate legislation would result in an additional 22 million individuals becoming uninsured by 2026.

The analysis also found that lower financial assistance in this bill compared to ObamaCare would make premiums unaffordable for many low-income people.

The Senate GOP legislation being blocked on a procedural hurdle would mark a serious setback for McConnell after his party campaigned for years on repealing and replacing ObamaCare.

Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneLeaders nix recess with no shutdown deal in sight Senate advances measure bucking Trump on Russia sanctions Mnuchin meets with Senate GOP to shore up ranks on Russia sanctions vote MORE (R-S.D.) downplayed the chances of Republicans bucking leadership and not allowing the initial step in voting on the Senate legislation.

“I would expect on the motion to proceed, it’s procedural that our members would at least let us get on it,” he told reporters. “Obviously everybody wants to exert whatever leverage they can … but I would expect that we would be able to get on it.”

— Updated 9:05 p.m.