What The Health Are They Voting On?

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Robert Donachie Capitol Hill and Health Care Reporter
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The Senate is scheduled to begin debating the various versions of health care reform Tuesday, but senators remain unsure if they will be voting to repeal and replace, or simply repeal, Obamacare.

Here are the various ways the process could play out in the Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is expected to kick off the proceedings Tuesday with a procedural vote on the bill the House passed May 4–the American Health Care Act. If the motion is approved, McConnell can start offering various amendments to the bill for consideration, which include a complete substitute for the House bill.

An important factor to note is that once the senators approve McConnell’s motion, the clock starts ticking. The Senate is trying to overhaul Obamacare through a process called budget reconciliation, which only allows senators to debate legislation for 20 hours.

The primary amendment being floated to the House bill is a repeal-only measure, called the Obamacare Repeal Reconciliation Act of 2017. That amendment would entirely repeal Obamacare without a replacement, but passing it is rather improbable. The Congressional Budget Office projected the repeal-only bill would leave 27 million Americans without health coverage in 2020, a figure that is likely to cause moderate Republicans and Democrats to vote against the amendment.  (RELATED: Third Time’s A Charm: CBO Releases Report On GOP’s Third Health Care Attempt)

McConnell could also float an amendment to the repeal-only amendment that would include a version of repeal and replace, although no one knows for certain.

If the vote on the repeal-only amendment fails, with or without any additional tweaks, McConnell could then move to replace the House bill with the Senate bill to largely repeal and replace Obamacare through the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA).

Once the 20 hours of debate are up, senators will begin voting on amendments to McConnell’s replacement and on points of order to ensure the bill conforms to budget reconciliation rules. The budget “reconciliation” process requires that every provision or amendment have a direct impact on the budget. McConnell can also float additional amendments during this process.

Senators would then vote to on whether or not to adopt the substitute amendment, which include the various changes made to it through the debate process, and then would vote to pass a bill.

Daily Caller News Foundation Congressional Reporter JulieGrace Brufke contributed to this article.

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