Fate Of New Senate Obamacare Repeal Bill Remains Unknown

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Juliegrace Brufke Capitol Hill Reporter
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GOP leadership faces an uphill battle on gaining the support needed to pass the revised version of the Senate Obamacare repeal bill released Thursday.

Despite needing just a simple majority, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is unable to lose another member, as two Republican senators have already said they won’t support voting for the motion to proceed — which he hopes to move on next week — due to issues with the bill in its current form.

Senate Republicans gathered at a caucus meeting late Thursday morning where McConnell laid out the changes made to the draft legislation. While top Republicans look to move members together, a divide remains on certain key issues.

GOP Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, a conservative, and Maine Sen. Susan Collins, a moderate, said that their votes will remain “no” unless major changes are made. A handful of Republican senators said they are waiting to make a decision on how they will vote on the motion to proceed until after the updated Congressional Budget Office score is released Monday.

“I think the bill has gotten worse — I mean, this bill keeps the majority of the Obamacare taxes. [It] keeps virtually all of the Obamacare regulations, it keeps most of the subsidies and then has a giant insurance bailout super fund,” Paul told reporters. “And I don’t think the federal government should be subsidizing insurance companies — they’re very successful, 15 billion dollars in profit. I don’t think we really need a superfund for insurance companies.”

Collins cited cuts to Medicaid as her reason for not supporting the bill, adding that she thinks the open amendment process is good, but doesn’t guarantee they will end up with good legislation.

“Well I think we can pass a better bill — I really believe that,” she said. “I’ve been involved in crafting very complicated legislation for a long time, And my experience has been when you go through the committee process, a bill gets vetted, you have hearings, you hear from experts, you get good ideas from your witnesses and from people on both sides of the aisle.”

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn told reporters it is “probably one of the most complicated legislative processes that I’ve ever been involved in,” but expects a vote next week. (RELATED: Can A Senate Obamacare Repeal Vote Happen Next Week?)

While certain members remain hesitant, the addition of an amendment put forward by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Utah Sen. Mike Lee swayed Cruz to support the updated measure.

Cruz acknowledged that the legislation is not a full repeal, but believes his amendment  — which allows insurers to offer plans that don’t meet the Obamacare Title I regulations — is a step in the right direction.

“I think this new bill represents a substantial improvement over the previous version,” he said. “And there are several changes that significantly improve our ability to reduce premiums, which has been my central focus from the beginning.”

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