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Senate Republican leaders announced unexpectedly on Tuesday afternoon that they would delay the body’s vote on the GOP healthcare bill until after the July 4 recess, multiple news outlets have confirmed.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s move to delay the vote came after key Republican senators came out against the draft bill following the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimate that 22 million Americans would lose health insurance as a result of the legislation.
At least five senators, from both conservative and moderate wings of the party, had publicly said they would not support a key procedural vote to allow the bill to advance to debate.
Moderate members Susan Collins and Dean Heller said they would not vote to advance the bill because of concerns regarding the decreased funding for Medicaid and the dismal CBO score. Conservative Sens. Rand Paul, Ron Johnson, and Mike Lee also said they were against moving the bill because they did not believe it went far enough in its repeal of the Affordable Care Act, the healthcare law better known as Obamacare.
Sen. Lisa Murkowsi, a key moderate vote from Alaska, told reporters she was happy with the decision to delay. “I think that was an important step,” Murkowsi said “I certainly wasn’t ready.”
The divisions made it difficult for McConnell to find a pathway to amend the bill and win over enough members to even get the bill to the floor debate.
Multiple news outlets have reported that the Senate GOP leadership plans to rewrite the bill over the July 4 weeklong recess and resubmit it to the CBO for a new score. The large loss of coverage and high costs projected in the CBO report released Monday drew swift condemnation from healthcare groups and Democrats, and even some Republican members expressed concern.
“We’re not going to vote this week, so we have more time to work on it until we get it done,” Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, the second-highest ranking Senate Republican, told reporters.
During a press briefing on Capitol Hill on Tuesday afternoon, McConnell called healthcare a “a big, complicated subject” and said he hoped to get “at least 50 people in a comfortable place” on the bill in the coming weeks.
McConnell originally hoped to be done with the bill before the recess to avoid prolonged public scrutiny similar to that faced by the House’s American Health Care Act, which endured two false starts before passing in May.
President Donald Trump has reportedly invited Republican senators to the White House on Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET to discuss the bill.
Bob Bryan contributed to this report.