U.S. Senate Republicans offered a bill on Thursday to overhaul Obamacare, the next phase in the party’s long war against the 2010 law enacted by then-Democratic President Barack Obama.
The legislation met a wall of opposition from Democrats and initial skepticism among some Republicans, leaving Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell a narrow path to passage.
The bill would roll back an expansion of the Medicaid health program for the poor and disabled over three years, cut its federal funding beginning in 2025, restructure Obamacare’s tax credits for low-income Americans, and repeal several taxes.
To pass the bill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can only afford to lose two Republican votes. The Senate is comprised of 52 Republicans, 46 Democrats and two independents who caucus with the Democrats (In the event of a deadlocked vote, Republican Vice President can vote to break the tie.)
Several Republicans on Thursday expressed reservations or opposition to the bill:
Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah said in a joint statement:
“We are not ready to vote for this bill. … There are provisions in this draft that represent an improvement to our current health care system, but it does not appear this draft as written will accomplish the most important promise that we made to Americans: to repeal Obamacare and lower their health care costs.” The four said they were open to negotiation, with Cruz saying in a separate statement that he wants to “get to yes.”
Richard Burr of North Carolina said outside the Senate: “I’m supportive of it. I think it strikes a balance.” He added that the blueprint “can still be amended and probably will.”
Three members of the Senate Republican leadership – John Cornyn of Texas, John Thune of South Dakota, and John Barrasso of Wyoming – all put out supportive statements, saying the bill would help improve the affordability of healthcare. Barrasso said the bill was not perfect, and “we will be working to improve on this draft.”
UNDECIDED – LEANING YES
Patrick Toomey of Pennsylvania said he was “still studying it but it strikes me as a good first step in what will be an ongoing process of fulfilling a commitment we made to the American people.”
Richard Shelby of Alabama: “We’re looking at it. My plan is to support the thrust of the bill. If it’s a good bill overall, I’m going to support it.”
Lamar Alexander of Tennessee listed a number of benefits for his constituents in the draft, including that it makes no change in Medicare benefits. “I’m going to stay focused on it next week as the bill goes to the Senate floor … and my focus will be on how it affects Tennesseans.”
Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia: “I will review the draft legislation released this morning … to evaluate whether it provides access to affordable health care for West Virginians.”
Bill Cassidy of Louisiana: “I’m undecided. I have to read the text.”
Marco Rubio of Florida said he will “decide how to vote on health care on the basis of how it impacts Florida.”
Dean Heller of Nevada said he had “serious concerns” about the bill’s impact on Medicaid in his state.
Susan Collins of Maine said it was “too soon” to judge the bill and she has some concerns about cuts to Medicaid after 2025 and defunding of Planned Parenthood.
Rob Portman of Ohio said in a statement that he continued to have “real concerns” about the Medicaid policies in the bill, especially those that affect drug treatment. He said his decision will depend on what is in the final version of the bill.
Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said, “I’m going to read it.”
James Risch of Idaho: “It’s a work in progress. Ask me again when we see the final product.”
John McCain of Arizona said he is reading the bill. “It’s a big thing, we just found out about it. I am just waiting until I can absorb the entire bill.”
Thom Tillis of North Carolina said in a statement that any replacement plan must be a net improvement over Obamacare, and he would be “reviewing the draft legislation over the next several days.”
Tom Cotton of Arkansas said, “no comment.”
(Reporting by Yasmeen Abutaleb; Additional reporting by Susan Cornwell and Rick Cowan; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Jonathan Oatis)
‘Belligerent from the get-go’: Dem senator gives blow-by-blow account of Trump’s meltdown on Pelosi
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) gave a detailed account of the emotional meltdown that President Donald Trump had with congressional Democrats at the White House on Wednesday.
Appearing on CNN Thursday morning, Menendez broke down how Trump started raging at Democrats from the second he entered the room.
"The meeting started off with the president walking in and slamming down his files on the table," Menendez said. "It was belligerent from the get-go... you have the president of the United States, who is supposed to bring our country together, particularly in times of challenges, [calling] the Speaker a third-rate politician."
Grieving British parents react on CNN to seeing Trump’s defense of woman who killed their son
On CNN Thursday, grieving British parents Tim Dunn and Charlotte Charles were shown footage of how President Donald Trump reacted to the motor vehicle death of their teenage son Harry at the hands of American diplomatic wife Anne Sacoolas.
Trump has refused to waive diplomatic immunity for Sacoolas to face punishment for her actions — and tried to defuse the situation by arranging a surprise meeting between Sacoolas and the parents which fortunately never took place.
"Radd, as you watched all of that play out, describe the mood in the room and what you left feeling after that — after that surprise," said anchor Alisyn Camerota.
MSNBC conservative goes down in flames trying to separate Trump’s incompetence from his corruption
MSNBC conservative Noah Rothman met furious pushback when he dismissed poll numbers as insignificant showing a growing majority of Americans support the impeachment of President Donald Trump.
The "Morning Joe" contributor argued that those numbers reflected the president's approval rating and would not exert any pressure on congressional Republicans, but instead place greater pressure on Democrats to make their case for impeachment.
"It's incumbent on Democrats to make this case," Rothman said. "Right now they are presenting a united front because it's still primary season. Once we get into the general (election campaign) there will be more pressure on them to explain their position, but it's incumbent on Democrats to make the case."