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Republicans delay Senate healthcare vote

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Facing a rebellion within their own ranks, Senate Republican leaders on Tuesday postponed a vote to overhaul the 2010 Affordable Care Act until after the July 4th recess.

The current proposal by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) would cause an estimated 22 million more Americans to be uninsured by the end of the coming decade while reducing federal spending by $321 billion during that time, the Congressional Budget Office concluded Monday.

The forecast by Congress’s nonpartisan budget scorekeepers appeared to rapidly erode Republicans’ confidence in the bill, with at least five GOP lawmakers saying that they would vote against even a procedural motion to start debate.

In a sign of the challenge Senate Republicans face in mustering enough votes, Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Tex.) said the procedural vote is likely to be scheduled for Wednesday rather than Tuesday.

Members who have publicly come out in opposition are facing a full-court lobbying press from party leaders. Within the past two-and-a-half days, Sen. Ron Johnson (Wis.) has spoken with President Trump, Vice President Pence, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis.). Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) spoke by phone with Trump on Monday and is scheduled to meet with him at the White House on Tuesday.

Johnson described the conversations as helpful but told reporters that he remained opposed to moving forward with the bill “for this week.”

“Lightning could strike, but I don’t see how I’ll have the information I need,” he said.

With Pence ready to cast a tiebreaking vote on the measure, Republican leaders can lose only two of their 52 members to pass the bill, which no Democrat is expected to support.

By late Monday, several GOP senators and aides appeared nervous and unsure about the path forward. They hedged on the timing of that procedural vote and suggested that the workweek could stretch beyond Friday. Further complicating the effort were at least two senatorial absences Tuesday: that of Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), whose father died Monday; and Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), who is undergoing cancer surgery.

Hirono’s spokesman Will Dempster said she is committed to returning “as quickly as she can” to the Senate.

Despite several Republicans’ public opposition, Senate leaders held out some hope for salvaging the effort, pointing to the CBO’s estimates of deficit savings as a silver lining that allows them to allocate additional funds to try to ease some members’ concerns.


If the Senate version does emerge, House leaders have not ruled out the possibility of a quick vote without negotiating the differences with their own bill, passed out of the House in May. Ultimately, the measure appeared to be teetering between two dramatically different outcomes — a rapid defeat and an equally rapid path to Trump’s desk.

Ryan would not say Tuesday how his chamber would act if the Senate passes a health-care bill this week, saying, “We just don’t know what the final bill is going to look like.”

But multiple House GOP aides said Monday that there was a possibility that the leader would take a Senate-passed bill and try to move it through to final passage before the July 4 holiday. The GOP whip office advised members that “additional legislative items are possible” beyond what is scheduled for the week.

“I would not bet against Mitch McConnell,” Ryan said, downplaying the chances that the bill could stall. “He is very, very good a getting things through the Senate even with this razor-thin majority.”

The release of the 49-page CBO ­report late Monday afternoon provided a new hurdle for the bill, which leaders hope to bring to a vote by Friday. No new senators immediately said they would back the legislation, and Sens. Johnson, Paul, Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Mike Lee (Utah) signaled that they would vote against starting debate Tuesday on the bill in its current form. A fifth senator, Dean Heller (R-Nev.), had expressed his opposition last week, and has not shown subsequent signs of changing his mind.

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Muslim Global: Republicans delay Senate healthcare vote
Republicans delay Senate healthcare vote
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