The Senate has delayed a vote on a proposal to repeal much of ObamaCare.
The Senate had been expected to vote on the amendment, which would repeal most of the law in two years, from Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulRand Paul calls for Fauci's firing over 'lack of judgment' Vaccine 'resisters' are a real problem Democrats fret as longshot candidates pull money, attention MORE (R-Ky.) late Wednesday morning, but made a last-minute announcement that it was being delayed until 3:30 p.m.
Sen. John CornynJohn CornynCornyn raises more than M for Senate GOP Is the Biden administration afraid of trade? The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - After high drama, Senate lifts debt limit MORE (R-Texas), the No. 2 Senate Republican, said senators wanted more time to work out a procedural “kerfuffle.”
“There was a kerfuffle over the point of order. They need to ... make some other arguments to the parliamentarian,” he told reporters.
Asked if it was tied to abortion language included in the bill, he said, “I believe so.”
Democrats were expected to use the Senate’s rulebook to try to strip out a provision in the repeal amendment that included restrictions on using tax credits to buy insurance that covers abortions.
The repeal-only amendment would also cut off federal funding for Planned Parenthood.
The ObamaCare repeal amendment is expected to fail, regardless of the abortion fight.
The Senate also voted down an amendment to repeal and replace ObamaCare on Tuesday night. They are the first of what are expected to be hundreds of amendments during the days-long healthcare debate.
Three GOP senators have already come out against a repeal-only approach, and Sen. Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderMcConnell gets GOP wake-up call The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats return to disappointment on immigration Authorities link ex-Tennessee governor to killing of Jimmy Hoffa associate MORE (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate’s health committee, predicted the Senate would not get 40 votes to repeal ObamaCare without a replacement.
But conservatives ramped up pressure for GOP senators to support the proposal, noting Senate Republicans passed a repeal bill in 2015 when they knew then-President Obama would veto it.
“Republicans promised to repeal ObamaCare, and as we move forward in this process, I urge them to join me in supporting a clean repeal of as much of this disastrous law as possible,” Paul said ahead of the vote.
FreedomWorks, a conservative outside group, blasted out a “key vote” notice hours ahead of Wednesday’s vote, arguing President Trump would sign a repeal-only bill.
Repealing portions of ObamaCare without enacting a replacement could leave 18 million people without health insurance the following year, according to a report released by Congressional Budget Office (CBO) in January.
After the elimination of ObamaCare's Medicaid expansion and insurance subsidies, 27 million people would lose insurance, rising to 32 million by 2026, the CBO found.
The proposal comes as senators are searching to find a path forward to fulfill their years of campaign pledges to repeal and replace ObamaCare.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden says he's open to altering, eliminating filibuster to advance voting rights Pelosi says GOP senators 'voted to aid and abet' voter suppression for blocking revised elections bill Manchin insists he hasn't threatened to leave Democrats MORE (R-Ky.) scored a victory Tuesday when he wrangled 50 GOP senators to agree to start debate on the matter. Vice President Pence broke the 50-50 tie.
But during the first amendment vote on Tuesday evening, nine GOP senators joined with Democrats to vote against a key repeal-and-replace proposal, known as the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA). The setback doesn’t prevent GOP leadership from offering another version of BCRA during what is expected to be a days-long floor debate.
McConnell acknowledged the healthcare effort “certainly won’t be easy.”
“We’ll consider many different proposals throughout this process from senators on both sides of the aisle. Ultimately, we want to get legislation to finally end the failed ObamaCare status quo through Congress, and to the president’s desk for his signature,” he said Wednesday morning.
Republicans have a 52-seat majority and will need the support of at least 50 GOP senators to pass a proposal.
GOP leadership could ultimately try to pass a “skinny repeal,” which would include a repeal of the individual and employer mandate and the medical device tax, if broader proposals aren’t able to garner enough support.
The move could buy Republicans time to work out a deal as they try to merge their healthcare bill with a proposal passed earlier this year by the House.
“I think the endgame is to be able to move something at the end of this process across the Senate floor that can get 50 votes and then get into conference with the House,” Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneDemocratic frustration with Sinema rises Senate Republicans raise concerns about TSA cyber directives for rail, aviation Democrats narrow scope of IRS proposal amid GOP attacks MORE (R-S.D.) told reporters.
Cornyn added Wednesday that the GOP is “looking for a way to get to conference quick” but no decisions had been made about what the Senate could ultimately pass, or what could be included in a "skinny repeal."
Democrats, however, have blasted that path as a setup to try to ultimately pass full repeal of ObamaCare.
“Make no mistake about it, skinny repeal is equal to full repeal. It’s a Trojan horse designed to get the House and Senate into conference where the hard-right flank of the Republican caucus, the Freedom Caucus, will demand full repeal or something very close to it,” Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said ahead of the vote.