Establishment Republican Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) want to pass a bipartisan health care bill, not a conservative Obamacare repeal bill.
Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) held up bright red posters in a mostly empty Senate chamber on Thursday for a presentation on how his ideas on health care would pass the “Jimmy Kimmel Test” by helping people with pre-existing conditions.
Virginia Democratic Senator Tim Kaine came to the floor and praised Senator Cassidy. “I do applaud my colleague,” Kaine said.
Several senators from the opposing parties discussed a possible bipartisan solution to health care. Senators Cassidy and Collins have reached out to Democrats recently. However, the chatter has dwindled since the House passed its American Health Care Act (AHCA).
Sen. Lindsey Graham admitted he does not want a partisan Obamacare repeal bill. Graham said, “I hope for a bipartisan bill.”
Senator Collins echoed Graham’s sentiment.
“I really want us to have a bipartisan bill. I just think it will be so much better. And we have better ideas,” Collins explained. “So that’s my goal. You end up with a better bill, you end up with better acceptance by the public.”
Senators Cassidy and Collins lobbied their Senate colleagues to support their bill that would allow states to retain significant portions of Obamacare. The two have met with the Senate health working group. However, the duo does not participate in the group as full members. The Senate can pass the bill without the moderates’ support, but it would make the whip count far more complicated.
Republicans leaders remain wary of handing a bipartisan accomplishment to the roughly dozen Senate Democrats up for reelection in 2018. Republicans don’t want to water down any health care reform that could tank conservative support from lawmakers such as Senators Rand Paul (R-KY), Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Mike Lee (R-UT). Democrat leaders want the GOP to own the health care system going into the midterm elections.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) wants to craft a repeal bill that garners at least 50 Republicans’ votes to pass in the Senate. In the event of a 50-50 split in the Senate, Vice President Mike Pence would break the tie.
Senator Cassidy says that his bill would carry out Donald Trump’s promise to repeal and replace Obamacare. He said, “The only way you fulfill Trump’s contract with the American voter is through the Cassidy-Collins bill. Republican leaders “may leave us out,” but “I don’t think they’re trying to.”