- Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
Senate Republicans appear to be running headlong into a healthcare bill that may or may not pass.
Reports say GOP leaders are looking for an end to the debate over their Obamacare replacement during 2017 – one way or another.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and leadership are presenting their conference with options for their version of a healthcare bill at a regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, according to those reports.
It appears leadership wants to make major decisions on aspects of the bill – like funding for Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion and tax credits for Americans to purchase insurance – in short order to get the bill a vote by the end of June.
Stricter rules in the Senate for the budget reconciliation process require that the bill shave at least $133 billion from federal deficits, meaning that the bill will need to be scored by the Congressional Budget Office.
Based on that timeline, and roughly a two-week turnaround for the CBO, leaders are pushing to get the legislative text of the bill done by the end of the week, according to Politico’s Jennifer Haberkorn and Burgess Everett.
Politico’s Dan Diamond, citing a source close to McConnell, reported that the majority leader wants to get the healthcare debate settled one way or the other so the Senate can focus on other issues like tax reform and funding the government in the fall.
Given recent statements from several Republican senators, it looks like failure for the bill is a real possibility.
“I don’t think this gets better over time,” Sen. Roy Blunt, a Republican from Missouri, told Politico. “So my personal view is we’ve got until now and the Fourth of July to decide if the votes are there or not. And I hope they are.”
“Just listening to the debate over the past few weeks, I think cobbling together a bill that could get 50 votes is going to be a challenge, but you never know,” said GOP Sen. Susan Collins, a moderate member of the caucus.
“I don’t think there will be” a healthcare bill, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina told Bloomberg on Monday. “I just don’t think we can put it together among ourselves.”
And Sen. Richard Burr told a local North Carolina news station last week that he doesn’t expect a healthcare deal to get done in 2017 and is focusing on reforms to stabilize the individual insurance market instead.
“It’s unlikely that we will get a healthcare deal, which means that most of my time has been spent trying to figure out solutions to Iowa losing all of its insurers, to Tennessee losing theirs, to North Carolina only having one insurer in 95 out of 100 counties,” Burr told WXII News in Sanford, North Carolina, last Thursday.
A GOP aide had a somewhat more painful analogy for the possibility of the healthcare vote failing, according to Axios’ Caitlin Owens.
“It’s like a root canal, best to get it over with and move on to things Republicans are good at,” the aide told Axios.