Senate's McConnell: Draft healthcare bill expected Thursday

Evrard Martin
Juin 21, 2017

Good question from Haley Byrd: For all of the grumbling from Lee and other Republican senators about the hasty, secretive process (much more secretive than ObamaCare, in fact, which was subject to many committee hearings), will a single GOPer vote no on the bill purely on procedural grounds?

WASHINGTON (AP) - Senate Republicans steered toward a potential showdown vote on their long-awaited health care bill next week, despite indications that they've yet to solidify the 50 GOP votes they'll need to avert an embarrassing defeat.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell might be on the verge of releasing a bill to repeal Obamacare, but he's got conservatives to convince before he can be sure he has the votes to pass it. The state senator has not seen the Senate's revision, so it's likely he's basing his remarks on the House bill.

Of course, President Trump joined with Republicans at the White House to celebrate the House-passed bill.

The Republican effort to secretly craft a health care bill and push it through the Senate is drawing fire from members of both parties.

"It's apparently being written by a small handful of staffers for members of the Republican leadership", said conservative Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) said in a video Tuesday. Spicer also said he didn't know if the president had seen a draft of the Senate bill.

Sen. Lee concluded, "We should be able to see it first and we should have been able to see it weeks ago". Before that, they delivered to Republicans a trolling letter, "to assist you in scheduling a hearing", listing 31 rooms the majority might want to use to host public discussion and testimony. An average of eight polls compiled by the New York Times showed 47 percent of North Dakotans oppose the Republican bill, while 31 percent support it. Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., voted for the bill.

"The Democrats keep complaining about, 'Oh my gosh, it's not an open process.' If two or three Democrats walked into Mitch McConnell's room and said, 'You have our vote for this, ' it would have incredible impact".

McCain is among a growing number of senators who are frustrated with Senate Republican leaders, whose efforts to draft the health care overhaul measure are being conducted in secret. Another possibility was letting states drop some coverage requirements Obama's law imposes on insurers, they said. We are making steady progress, but we're nowhere near resolving the issues that are needed.

Rep. Eliot Engel of NY, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said he's concerned that sending the sanctions bill to the committee will give the Trump administration an opportunity to weaken legislation.

Medicaid has become an issue in this debate because the Affordable Care Act made extra funding available to states that expanded eligibility for their programs, so that anybody in households with income below or just above the federally defined poverty line can qualify.

Though McConnell did not schedule the vote for next week, some Republicans said they believed he would hold it either way. Thune said "it's high time we turned the page on this failed Obamacare experiment". They don't plan to make it public until the very last minute, with less than a day to view it before we vote upon it.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer seemed to confirm that position Tuesday when he told reporters the president wants the bill to have "heart".

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives narrowly approved its version of repeal last month. We've heard so many anguished stories from constituents who've been hurt by Obamacare. These lawmakers include the one political analysts rank as the most vulnerable Republican senator in the 2018 elections ― Dean Heller of Nevada ― as well as Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Rob Portman from Ohio.

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