Senate Plans for Mid-Summer Health Care Vote

Trump Celebrates Health Care Evan VucciAP
Evan Vucci/AP

Senate Republicans will discuss Obamacare repeal options at a Tuesday GOP meeting, as lawmakers plan to vote on the legislation by the end of June.

Republicans continue to push forward despite skepticism from their members as to whether the Senate can pass an Obamacare repeal and replace package before the end of the year.

Senators and their staffers will present potential health care solutions to the Republican conference at a closed-door meeting on Tuesday. Senate staffers will not unveil draft legislation at the meeting, but will discuss options to narrow down key planks of the Senate’s bill.

Senator John Thune (R-SD), a GOP leader, said, “We’re at the point where we have to start making decisions.”

Thune added that lawmakers are “probably not quite there yet” in drafting legislative text, “but I think that’s going to happen soon.”

Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), revealed, “I think tomorrow you’ll see a draft of the draft.”

Thune hopes that “ideally” the Senate could vote on the health care bill before the Fourth of July recess, or at least by the end of July before Congress leaves for its August recess.

Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), said that the Senate could vote on the bill in “July sometime.”

Sen. Roy Blunt said, “My personal view is we’ve got until about the Fourth of July to decide whether the votes are there or not and I hope they are.”

Establishment Republicans remain unsure whether the Senate can repeal Obamacare by the end of the summer.

Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) admitted, “It’s unlikely that we will get a health-care deal.” Burr added that the House Obamacare plan was “dead on arrival,” and that “I don’t see a comprehensive health care plan this year.”

Senator Mitch McConnell recently said, “I don’t know how we get to 50 votes at the moment.”

“Obviously we’re going to have a vote one way or the other, but if we don’t pass something and we go into ’18 … it’s on us to try and get this fixed,” Thune explained. “The Democrats created the mess, but we’re in charge now, and it’s up to us to fix it.”

Moderate Senators such as Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) remain wary about Republicans’ efforts to roll back Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion.

Capito said that a slower rollback would be “helpful,” although she conceded, “I’m not saying that I support phasing it out.”

Senator Thune said he would work with the Congressional Budget Office to offer a more generous tax for low-income Americans compared to the House-passed bill.

White House adviser Marc Short said, “We expect the summer to be focused on passing health care and the [fiscal 2018] budget so that this fall we can reconcile the budget with tax reform.”

President Donald will meet with Republican leadership to iron out details regarding health care and tax reform.

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