24 senators co-sponsor bipartisan ObamaCare deal

The bipartisan deal to stabilize ObamaCare’s markets has 24 co-sponsors, Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderCongress must move forward on measure dealing with fentanyl GOP advances rules change to speed up confirmation of Trump nominees Key doctors group faces political risks on guns MORE (R-Tenn.) announced Thursday.

Twelve Republicans and 12 Democrats signed on to the bill, which would continue ObamaCare's insurer subsidies for two years and give states more flexibility to waive ObamaCare rules. 

"This is a first step. Improve it and pass it sooner rather than later," Alexander said on the Senate floor.  

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Trump announced last week he was canceling the payments, arguing the previous administration lacked the authority to make them.

But Democrats, and some Republicans, including Alexander, have pushed for Congress to temporarily fund the payments as a way to stabilize the ObamaCare markets. 

If they don't, Alexander said, "there will be chaos in this country and millions of Americans will be hurt." 

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said canceling the insurer payments could lead to premium increases through 2020. 

Republicans likely wouldn't put the bill on the floor of the Senate without the expressed approval from President Trump, who has sent mixed messages.

He has repeatedly referred to the insurer payments as a "bailout," which has been echoed by some conservative Republicans in Congress.  

Responding to that criticism Thursday, Alexander said he was open to adding any language the White House might have to strengthen a provision already in the bill to ensure that insurers can’t keep the payments for themselves, but rather have to pass savings on to consumers in the form of rebates or another mechanism.   

Alexander said he predicts the bill will pass by the end of the year. Some have suggested it could be attached to the end of year spending deal.

But the proposal might face an uphill battle in the House.

It received a cold reception from Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanRubio discovers Native American heritage through TV show Feminine hygiene products to be available to House lawmakers using congressional funds Former Ryan aide moves to K street MORE (R-Wis.), who said the Senate should instead focus on repealing ObamaCare.  

But Alexander noted that the repeal bill passed by the House earlier in the year funded the insurer payments, known as cost-sharing reductions, for two years.

"Every Republican in the House of Representatives who voted to repeal and replace ObamaCare this year voted for a provision that continued the cost-sharing payments for two years. Our bill does the same thing," he said. 

In a concession to Republicans, the bill would also grant states more flexibility to waive ObamaCare rules and allow the sale of less comprehensive, cheaper “copper” plans.

But some conservatives have said this isn't enough. 

For those pushing for more conservative changes, Alexander said, "you can't get most of those changes without 60 votes in the United States Senate."

"We are certain that it can be improved, but I do not believe that Congress will want to deal with a problem that will hurt millions of Americans if we allow it to continue." 

The Republican co-sponsors include Sens. Mike RoundsMarion (Mike) Michael RoundsGOP senator: Trump thinks funding deal is 'thin gruel' Lawmakers put Pentagon's cyber in their sights Endorsing Trump isn’t the easiest decision for some Republicans MORE (R-S.D.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham seeks new Rosenstein testimony after explosive McCabe interview Senate confirms Trump pick William Barr as new attorney general Graham demands testimony from former FBI acting Director McCabe MORE (R-S.C.), John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMark Kelly's campaign raises over M in days after launching Senate bid The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Kidney Care Partners — Lawmakers wait for Trump's next move on border deal Mark Kelly launches Senate bid in Arizona MORE (R-Ariz.), Bill CassidyWilliam (Bill) Morgan CassidyIvanka Trump to meet with GOP senators to discuss paid family leave legislation Bipartisan senators ask industry for information on surprise medical bills Virginia abortion bill reignites national debate MORE (R-La.), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsGOP braces for Trump's emergency declaration DOJ warns White House that national emergency will likely be blocked: report On The Money: Trump to sign border deal, declare emergency to build wall | Senate passes funding bill, House to follow | Dems promise challenge to emergency declaration MORE (R-Maine), Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstPush for paid family leave heats up ahead of 2020 Ivanka Trump to meet with GOP senators to discuss paid family leave legislation On The Money: Negotiators aiming to reach deal Monday night | Why border talks stalled | Treasury calls reports on dip in tax refunds 'misleading' | Cuomo, Trump to discuss SALT deduction cap MORE (R-Iowa), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiGOP braces for Trump's emergency declaration GOP advances rules change to speed up confirmation of Trump nominees Senate votes to extend key funding mechanism for parks MORE (R-Alaska), Charles GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleySenate approves border bill that prevents shutdown Grassley raises voice after McConnell interrupts Senate speech Senate confirms Trump pick William Barr as new attorney general MORE (R-Iowa), Johnny IsaksonJohn (Johnny) Hardy IsaksonOn The Money: Lawmakers wait for Trump verdict on border deal | Trump touts deal as offering B for security | McConnell presses Trump to sign off | National debt tops T | Watchdog details IRS shutdown woes Trump criticizes border wall deal: 'Can't say I'm happy' GOP senators offer praise for Klobuchar: 'She’s the whole package' MORE (R-Georgia), Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Kidney Care Partners — Lawmakers scramble as shutdown deadline nears Drama hits Senate Intel panel’s Russia inquiry Cohen to testify before three congressional panels before going to prison MORE (R-N.C.), and Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerSasse’s jabs at Trump spark talk of primary challenger RNC votes to give Trump 'undivided support' ahead of 2020 Sen. Risch has unique chance to guide Trump on foreign policy MORE (R-Tenn.). 

The  Democratic co-sponsors include Sens. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenDems slam EPA plan for fighting drinking water contaminants Bipartisan Senators reintroduce legislation to slap new sanctions on Russia Dems seeking path to Senate majority zero-in on Sun Belt MORE (D-N.H.), Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyOvernight Energy: Trump taps ex-oil lobbyist Bernhardt to lead Interior | Bernhardt slams Obama officials for agency's ethics issues | Head of major green group steps down Trump picks ex-oil lobbyist David Bernhardt for Interior secretary EPA's Wheeler faces grilling over rule rollbacks MORE (D-Ind.), Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharO’Rourke heading to Wisconsin amid 2020 speculation NBC, CNN to host first two Democratic presidential primary debates Barbara Lee endorses Kamala Harris's 2020 bid MORE (D-Minn.), Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampOvernight Energy: Trump taps ex-oil lobbyist Bernhardt to lead Interior | Bernhardt slams Obama officials for agency's ethics issues | Head of major green group steps down Trump picks ex-oil lobbyist David Bernhardt for Interior secretary On The Money: Shutdown Day 27 | Trump fires back at Pelosi by canceling her foreign travel | Dems blast 'petty' move | Trump also cancels delegation to Davos | House votes to disapprove of Trump lifting Russia sanction MORE (D-N.D.), Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenVirginia scandals pit Democrats against themselves and their message The Hill's Morning Report — Will Ralph Northam survive? Identity politics and the race for the Democratic nomination MORE (D-Minn.), Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinSenate confirms Trump pick William Barr as new attorney general GOP wants to pit Ocasio-Cortez against Democrats in the Senate Senate poised to confirm Trump’s attorney general pick MORE (D-W.Va.), Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperDems slam EPA plan for fighting drinking water contaminants EPA to announce PFAS chemical regulation plans by end of year Overnight Energy: Zinke joins Trump-tied lobbying firm | Senators highlight threat from invasive species | Top Republican calls for Green New Deal vote in House MORE (D-Del.), Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinDems offer smaller step toward ‘Medicare for all' Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by America's 340B Hospitals — Powerful House committee turns to drug pricing | Utah governor defies voters on Medicaid expansion | Dems want answers on controversial new opioid Why does the bankruptcy code discriminate against disabled veterans? MORE (D-Wis.), Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillMcCaskill: Lindsey Graham 'has lost his mind' Trey Gowdy joins Fox News as a contributor The Hill’s 12:30 Report: Trump AG pick Barr grilled at hearing | Judge rules against census citizenship question | McConnell blocks second House bill to reopen government MORE (D-Mo.), and Maggie HassanMargaret (Maggie) HassanTrade official warns senators of obstacles to quick China deal Actor Chris Evans meets with Democratic senators before State of the Union Bipartisan senators ask industry for information on surprise medical bills MORE (D-N.H.). 

Sen. Angus KingAngus Stanley KingDrama hits Senate Intel panel’s Russia inquiry Warner, Burr split on committee findings on collusion Overnight Defense: Top general wasn't consulted on Syria withdrawal | Senate passes bill breaking with Trump on Syria | What to watch for in State of the Union | US, South Korea reach deal on troop costs MORE (I-Maine) is also a co-sponsor.

Updated at 2:15 p.m.