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Pence Breaks Tie, Senate Barely Advances Obamacare Replacement Process


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The Senate passed Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s motion to proceed on the upper chamber’s healthcare reform bills Tuesday, a move that will allow senators to vote on both the 2015 Obamacare repeal bill and the leadership’s healthcare reform legislation. If either bill ultimately passes, it will repeal large sections of Obamacare.

This Senate vote starts the first step towards repealing and replacing Obamacare.

The motion passed after moderate and conservative Republicans opposed the Senate leadership’s healthcare bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA). Moderate senators such as Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) worried about the bill’s cuts to Medicaid and pre-existing conditions, while conservative senators such as Rand Paul (R-KY) and Mike Lee (R-UT) complained that the bill does not do enough to repeal Obamacare.

Senate Majority Mitch McConnell’s motion to proceed will start 20 hours of debate on the Senate healthcare bill.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), whose vote was necessary, returned to the Senate to vote to approve the motion to proceed after his recent brain tumor diagnosis.

Sen. John Thune (R-SD) said, “It’s probably more drama than it deserves for a motion to proceed.”

Sen. Collins and Murkowski voted against the motion to proceed on the Senate healthcare bill.

Rand Paul and Mike Lee voted to approve the measure to begin debate on health care in exchange for the opportunity to vote on the 2015 clean Obamacare repeal bill.

McConnell enticed many reluctant senators to vote for the motion to proceed by allowing Senate Republicans to offer amendments to the BCRA.


Baby steps?

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Guy Benson

Jul 25, 2017


In a turn of events that seemed improbable a week ago, Senate Republicans voted to begin debate on a series of proposals to repeal and replace Obamacare this afternoon.  Mitch McConnell needed every single "aye" tally he got, as Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski sided with Democrats to attempt to block the process from moving forward.  But after left-wing agitators were arrested for disrupting Senate proceedings with angry chants, and John McCain dramatically arrived in the chamber for the first time since his brain cancer diagnosis, Vice President Mike Pence broke the deadlock.  The motion to proceed (MTP) succeeded, 51-50.  

It's important to emphasize that in spite of the theatrics, the Senate didn't even come close to passing a healthcare bill today.  Crossing this threshold merely allows Obamacare replacement proposals to be debated, amended, and voted upon.  McConnell and his team are keenly aware that they're still a long way from final passage.  The fact that two Republican members voted with Chuck Schumer to shut down the process before it even got off the ground underscores that reality.  There are a number of Senators who aren't sold on the BCRA -- or any of the current alternatives -- who nevertheless did the right thing and supported the motion to proceed.  Bringing them into the fold to back an actual bill is a separate and completed task. Threading this needle will be quite a challenge:





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