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Senate rejects ObamaCare repeal, replacement amendment

The Senate rejected a key proposal repealing and replacing ObamaCare on Tuesday night as senators start a dayslong debate on healthcare. 

 
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The proposal was the first amendment to get a vote after senators took up the House-passed healthcare bill, known as the American Health Care Act, which is being used as a vehicle for any Senate action, earlier Tuesday
 
But it was widely expected to fall short of the 60 votes it needed because the Congressional Budget Office didn't analyze either the Cruz or Portman proposal that was packaged in with the BCRA.
 
Tuesday night's vote doesn't prevent GOP leadership from offering another repeal-and-replace amendment or another version of BCRA. 
 
It could also help GOP leadership get rank-and-file senators on the record as they try to figure out a path forward.
 
A vote on an amendment that would repeal much of ObamaCare is expected on Wednesday
 
Cruz acknowledged ahead of the late-night vote that the amendment wasn't likely to be approved, but he appeared optimistic that Republicans would be able to get to an agreement before a final vote this week. 
 
"I will say the bill before the Senate ... is not likely to pass tonight but I believe at the end of the process the contours within it are likely to be what we enact, at least the general outlines," Cruz said from the Senate floor ahead of the vote. 
 
Cruz said he expects his amendment to end up in the final version of the healthcare bill. 
 
"I believe we will see the consumer freedom amendment in the legislation that is ultimately enacted," he said. 
 
Murkowski was greeted by protestors outside the Capitol who chanted "stay strong Lisa." 
 
Asked whether she would support a "skinny repeal" bill, she said it's not clear what it would entail. 
 
"I don't know that any of us have defined what that might be."
 
Cruz's provision would allow insurance companies to sell plans that did not meet ObamaCare's requirements, as long as they also offered plans that did.
 
Portman's, meanwhile, would aim to lower insurance costs for individuals in Medicaid expansion states, like Ohio, but could also apply to other low-income Americans. 

The provision would add $100 billion to the bill's state stability fund to help people who might lose the coverage they got under ObamaCare's Medicaid expansion. These funds could help cover out-of-pocket costs like deductibles and copays.

Portman said he "worked with the president, vice president and administrative officials" to "improve this bill further to help out low-income Ohioans."