A proposal that would partially repeal Obamacare fell short of the 51 votes needed to pass it Wednesday afternoon, dealing yet another blow to the GOP effort to roll back the 2010 health care law.
The Senate rejected the plan in a 45-55 vote. All Democrats voted against it, along with seven Republicans. They are:
- Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-West Virginia
- Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine
- Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona
- Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nevada
- Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio
- Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee
- Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska
All of them except Collins voted in favor of a nearly identical proposal two years ago.
Republicans needed a simple majority, 51 votes, rather than a supermajority to pass it because they were using the budget reconciliation process.
The vote was among a number of amendments that are being debated and voted on in the Senate this week as Republicans try to find consensus on a repeal plan.
The text of the legislation mirrors a bill that the Senate passed in 2015 that President Obama then vetoed. Under the measure, most of Obamacare would be repealed, but that wouldn't take effect for two years, giving Republicans time to come up with a replacement plan.
Three Senate Republicans came out against this idea last week: Susan Collins, Shelley Moore Capito and Lisa Murkowski. This plan could also be even more complicated if Democrats retake control of any part of Congress in 2019. CBO projected earlier this month that 32 million more people would be left without health insurance in 2026.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, was a major proponent of this repeal plan because it delivered what he called a "clean repeal" of the law. It went further than other Republican proposals in terms of repealing the law.
The vote was originally scheduled for earlier in the day, but it was delayed until the afternoon so that a procedural issue could be hashed out.
This comes a day after Senate Republicans' most comprehensive plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), failed 43-57 late Tuesday after it required 60 votes. This contained a proposal from Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, that would allow insurers to sell less expensive bare-bones plans alongside plans that comply with stricter Obamacare standards. And a proposal was added from Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, that would "assist low-income people moving off of Medicaid and onto private insurance plans," according to an aide to McConnell.
The last option that Republicans are discussing is a so-called "skinny repeal," which would repeal Obamacare's individual and employer mandates as well as the medical device tax. They want to wrap in any provision that could qualify for only 51 votes. Senate Republicans say this would allow them to move to a conference committee and further negotiate a deal with House Republicans.
The chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, however, Rep. Mark Meadows, said that the "skinny repeal" couldn't pass the House.
"Oh, no. There's zero chance," he told reporters.
Asked if he's okay with a conference committee, he added, "Yeah. I would prefer they get a deal done before and that way we do an up or down over here. But if it's coming back skinny it won't be an up or down vote."
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