Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell managed to muster enough support to pass the motion to proceed on repealing the Affordable Care Act after much uncertainty Tuesday.
The fate of the procedural measure remained unclear leading up to the vote, with several GOP lawmakers in the upper chamber expressing their frustrations with the lack of information on what they were moving forward on in the days leading up to the legislation coming to the floor.
It passed by the narrowest of margins after moderate GOP Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine voted against proceeding to a debate, leaving Vice President Mike Pence to break the tie.
Senate Republicans have struggled to come to a consensus on replacement language, with conservatives arguing the Better Care Reconciliation Act didn’t do enough to repeal Obamacare or bring down premiums while moderates expressed concerns over cuts to Medicaid.
The return of Arizona Sen. John McCain — who was recently diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor — played a pivotal role in its passage. Despite only needing a simple majority under the rules of reconciliation, McConnell could only lose two votes for the measure to succeed.
While the procedural measure passed, it does not guarantee a repeal and replace bill will pass the upper chamber when it comes to the floor.
“This is just the beginning. We’re not out here to spike the football. This is a long way, but we’ll finish at the end of the week,” McConnell said at a press conference following its passage. “Hopefully, with a measure that can either go to the House and be taken up or go to conference. So we’re pleased to have been able to take a step in that direction today.”
Senate lawmakers will now move into debate ahead of their vote on repeal legislation.
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