Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that he will release a draft of the Senate health care bill on Thursday.
McConnell also confirmed that a final vote could come as early as next week, despite skepticism from moderate and conservatives senators as well as complaints from rank-and-file legislators about the leadership’s lack of transparency regarding the bill.
The Senate leadership previously stated that the Senate will not vote on the health care overhaul before they receive a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis, which could arrive as early as Monday.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) vented her frustration with the Senate’s lack of transparency. She reportedly asked, “Do you know what the health-care bill looks like? Because I don’t.”
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), another moderate Republican, said, “I’m hearing lots of conflicting information.”
Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) took to Facebook yesterday, complaining that despite serving as a member of the Senate’s health care working group, he has not seen the bill yet.
Lee said, “It’s apparently being written by a small handful of staffers for members of the Republican leadership in the Senate.”
McConnell maintains a slim majority in the Senate. Republicans can only afford to lose two votes in the upper chamber with Vice President Mike Pence’s vote to break any tie. Passing a bill through the Senate will require balancing the demands of moderates such as Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins (R-ME), while not alienating conservatives such as Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY), Mike Lee, and Ted Cruz (R-TX).
Revealing the bill the week before the vote might complicate its chances of passing through the Senate. Despite a broad range of senators serving on the health care working group, most Senators and even working-group members have not seen the bill yet.
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) said, “We don’t have a bill. But I’m confident. It’s my job to find 50 votes. We’re going to have 50 votes.”
Sen. Roy Blunt, another member of Senate leadership, said, “I assume we’ll vote on this bill whether we have 50 votes or not. On a bill like this, everything happens in the last ten days.”
Sen. Cruz remained heavily involved in the Senate health care working group, although he admitted to Conservative Review Editor-in-Chief Mark Levin he has not seen the bill yet. Cruz told Levin that if the bill does not “solve the underlying problem” with Obamacare, he will vote against it.
Cruz added, “We have to honor our promise to repeal Obamacare.”