Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is making no promises that AHCA, the GOP replacement for ObamaCare, will pass in the Senate.
Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) explained that unlike Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who guaranteed passage through the House in March, McConnell has been reticent to declare victory in the Senate. Heller stated, “Mitch has been very clear in our conference, and that is there will be a bill and we will be voting on it … He hasn’t gone beyond explaining that.”
McConnell told Reuters that passing healthcare reform will be a tougher hill to climb than passing tax reform. He asserted, “I don’t know how we get to 50 [votes] at the moment. But that’s the goal. And exactly what the composition of that [bill] is I’m not going to speculate about because it serves no purpose.”
One GOP senator told The Hill that he was bewildered as to why McConnell would have sounded off to Reuters, saying, “I don’t know why he’s doing media on it, but he might be lowering expectations.”
A GOP senator had told The Hill just before the House vote that legislation based on the House bill had a 20% chance of passing in the Senate.
The GOP needs 50 votes in the Senate to past the bill, which means they can afford to lose only two votes. The internal battle in the GOP stems from the disagreement over moderates’ belief that the federal contribution for expanded Medicaid enrollment should bot be capped, and conservatives, who don’t want to add a new health entitlement.
Senate Republican Whip John Cornyn (Texas) told reporters this past week that the Senate bill will be largely similar to the house bill.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), the most liberal of the GOP senators, cited a CBO report’s finding that 23 million people would lose insurance under the House bill, saying, “There does seem to be a consensus that the House bill could never pass the Senate and I’m certainly of that belief as well.” In March, Sens. Rob Portman (Ohio), Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.), Cory Gardner (Colo.) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) sent McConnell a letter warning that the House bill, which cuts roughly $900 billion in Medicaid funding, did “not include stability for Medicaid populations.”
Collins and Murkowski have criticized language defunding Planned Parenthood for a year, while subsidies for older Americans or easing Medicaid reforms could alienate Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mike Lee (R-Utah).