The Hill’s Whip List: Republicans try again on ObamaCare repeal
Three Republican senators oppose a last-ditch effort to repeal and replace ObamaCare, leaving the bill appearing dead.
Republicans need 50 votes to pass legislation from Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) that would repeal much of the law and provide block grants for health-care funding to states. Leaders can afford no more than 2 GOP defections.
Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), and Susan Collins (R-Maine) have come out against the bill.
Republican leaders are aiming for a vote the final week of September. Republicans face a Sept. 30 deadline to pass repeal using special budgetary rules that prevent a Democratic filibuster.
Every Democrat and independent is expected to vote against the bill.
Here’s a look at how votes are stacking up in the GOP.
The Hill will be updating this list as information comes in. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have updates to provide.
RECENT UPDATES: Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Susan Collins (R-Maine).
This list was last updated on Sept. 25 at 6:13 p.m.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) — Collins came out against the bill moments after the CBO released its score on Monday.
“Health care is a deeply personal, complex issue that affects every single one of us and one-sixth of the American economy. Sweeping reforms to our health care system and to Medicaid can’t be done well in a compressed time frame, especially when the actual bill is a moving target,” she said in a statement.
Many think she will run for governor of Maine, where a vote for repeal would be difficult to defend.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) — Paul backed his party in the July vote, but said Monday he won’t support the new legislation, which in his view doesn’t repeal enough of ObamaCare and could hurt some states.
“I’m kind of surprised this has been resurrected because I don’t think it has been fully thought through,” he told reporters.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) — McCain is opposed to Graham-Cassidy. “I cannot in good conscience vote for the Graham-Cassidy proposal. I believe we could do better working together, Republicans and Democrats, and have not yet really tried,” he said in a statement.
McCain has repeatedly been critical of the process used by the GOP on health care and also delivered the dramatic deciding vote against the GOP’s repeal effort in July.
McCain is close to Graham, one of the bill’s sponsors, and his home-state governor has endorsed the approach.
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) — Capito hasn’t expressed her position on the bill. She also previously had concerns about how the Senate GOP leadership’s bill changed Medicaid and worked to net $45 billion for opioids abuse.
“I’m trying to get the numbers for West Virginia,” Capito told Vox Thursday. “I think the flexibility piece is something that’s very attractive.”
Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) — A spokesman noted that Cochran hasn’t commented on Graham-Cassidy. He previously voted for the Senate’s last repeal and replace proposal, as well as partial repeal and “skinny” repeal.
Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) — A spokesman for Crapo told The Spokesman-Review that he is evaluating the legislation but “remains committed to fulfilling the promise of repealing and replacing Obamacare.”
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas): Cruz said Sunday he is currently a no but is open to changes that could win his support.
“Right now they don’t have my vote, and I don’t think they have [Sen.] Mike Lee’s [R-Utah] either,” he said.
Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) — A spokesman for Enzi said that he “generally does not announce beforehand how he will vote on legislation and he hasn’t on the Graham-Cassidy bill.”
Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) — Gardner, the chairman of the Senate GOP campaign arm, told The Denver Post that he is “trying to get some more information on it” and looking at the numbers.
Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) — Isakson told Vox that “I’m not a ‘no,’ but I’m not a ‘yes’ either.”
Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) — Moran’s office told The Topeka Capital-Journal that he “continues to have conversations with Kansans and his colleagues regarding Graham-Cassidy and reconciliation.”
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) — Murkowski has dodged questions on the bill, telling a small group of reporters Monday: “I need to figure out how all the numbers work with regards to Alaska.”
She also indicated she would like a bipartisan process.
“We’re now having bipartisan hearings; I have applauded those,” she said, referring to an effort in the Senate Health Committee to stabilize the insurance marketplaces, which has since been killed.
“I always think that when you can get support for whatever the initiative from across the spectrum, it’s just better legislation,” she added.
Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) — Portman, like Capito, previously had concerns about how the Senate GOP leadership’s bill changed Medicaid and worked to net $45 billion for opioids addiction. He said he’s working to try to get more money in this bill for opioids addiction treatment, but thinks it isn’t as crucial.
The extra money was needed in the previous repeal bill because “a lot of people would lose expanded Medicaid who are currently getting treatment.” Portman said the Cassidy-Graham bill “is a little different because it keeps Medicaid expansion in place if a governor chooses to do so.”
Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) — Sullivan split with his fellow Alaska Republican senator and backed a slimmed-down ObamaCare repeal bill on the floor in July.
The new bill could pull money away from Alaska, however, and like Murkowski, Sullivan is undecided.
“Still digging into it, trying to figure out all the backup of the dollar amounts, I’m trying to get more facts on it,” he said Tuesday.
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) — “Still thinking about it,” Toomey told reporters Tuesday.
Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) — Young told CNN that he’s “still thinking about it.”
LIKELY/LEANING YES (7)
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) — Alexander said he’s reviewing Cassidy-Graham to see how it would impact his state but he’s “always supported block grant plans that would give states more flexibility, in education, health care and other areas.”
Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) — Ernst told the Des Moines Register on Thursday that “I am leaning yes.”
But it would be a surprise if Ernst voted “no” on the package.
Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) — Fischer told Fox News that she is reading through the bill, adding: “I think it’s a great model that the senators have come up with.”
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) — Grassley said he is still looking at the bill, but likes that it “returns powers to states and individuals.”
“We need alternatives to ObamaCare, which hasn’t worked,” he said.
Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) — The conservative seems likely to back the bill.
“Sen. Lee is very encouraged by the waiver provisions in the bill and we are working with Cassidy’s office on some technical changes,” his office emailed Tuesday morning.
Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) — Roberts told Vox that “restoring decision-making back to the states is always a good idea, but this is not the best possible bill — this is the best bill possible under the circumstances.”
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) — Rubio told McClatchy that “I’ve got to see some of the details on how it impacts Florida, but by and large returning power to the states is something I’ve long believed in.”
Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) — Barrasso told MSNBC that “ObamaCare continues to fail the American people. …The Republicans are looking to get the decisions and the money out of Washington.”
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) — Blunt signed on to the bill last week, saying it would “provide better health care for Missourians.”
Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.): A spokeswoman for Boozman told The Associated Press that he will support the legislation.
Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) — A spokeswoman for Burr told The Hill he supports it.
Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) — Cassidy is a sponsor of the bill and would get a great deal of credit if it passes the Senate.
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) — “I like it, I do,” Corker told The Hill on Tuesday. “It’s not perfect, but it’s better than where we are, and that’s been my gauge.”
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) — Cornyn has been whipping support from GOP senators over the health-care legislation, and a spokesman confirmed he will support it.
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) — Cotton told The Washington Examiner on Tuesday that he supports the bill. “If it comes to the floor, I intend to vote for it,” he said.
Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) — Daines told the Billings Gazette that the new healthcare legislation could be good for Montana, which he argued is facing a fiscal “train wreck.”
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) — Flake announced his support for the bill on Twitter on Sunday.
“#GrahamCassidy plan to #RepealAndReplace #Obamacare has my support. It ought to be brought to the senate floor.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) — Graham is another co-sponsor, and one who could have influence with McCain.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) — Hatch told a local Utah TV station that he hopes the bill passes because ObamaCare “is a disaster for our country.”
Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) — The most vulnerable Senate Republican up for reelection next year, Heller is a co-sponsor of the legislation.
Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) — Hoeven said in a statement that “based on our initial review of the legislation, we are supportive.”
Sen. Jim Inhfoe (R-Okla.) — Inhofe told Vox that Graham-Cassidy is “a stronger position for the states to be in, and generally, Republicans agree with that.”
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) — Johnson is a co-sponsor.
Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) — Kennedy told Vox that he was supporting the bill “because it gives states added flexibility.”
Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) — A spokesman confirmed that Lankford supports the legislation.
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) — McConnell has touted the Graham-Cassidy bill including saying in a recent floor speech that it “would repeal the pillars of Obamacare and replace that failed law’s failed approach with a new one: taking decision-making power out of Washington, allowing states and governors to actually experiment with better ideas.”
Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) — Perdue told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that “I’m all in.”
Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) — Rounds told reporters on Monday that he supports the bill.
Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.): Scott said in a statement: “I’m on board — now let’s go get the votes!”
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) — A spokeswoman confirmed that Shelby will support the legislation.
Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) — Thune, the third-ranking GOP senator, backs the bill and said Cassidy is a “grave robber” for resurrecting something that was “6 feet under.”
Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) — Tillis told McClatchy that while Graham-Cassidy doesn’t completely solve the country’s healthcare problems it “puts it on [a] footing that I think is more likely to get us to a solution, through other measures that are going to require 60 votes.”
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