McConnell can lose only two senators from his 52-member caucus and still pass the bill
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, (L), and Senate Majority Whip Sen. John Cornyn, Republican from Texas speak with the media at the White House, Tuesday, June 27, 2017, in Washington. photo: AP/Alex Brandon, photo: AP/Alex Brandon
28 of June 2017 13:01:35
WASHINGTON – Senate GOP leaders scrambled Wednesday for a deal to revive their health care legislation, but encountered new obstacles as recalcitrant senators doubled down on their opposition to the bill sought by President Donald Trump.Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky was conducting non-stop negotiations behind the scenes, but publicly there was little evidence he would be able to get senators to agree to a new version of the legislation by the end of the week, as he hopes to.Trump, who met with Republican senators on Tuesday, told reporters Wednesday that getting approval of a bill will be "very tough." But he predicted that Republicans will at least "get very close" and may "get it over the line." McConnell canceled planned votes on the bill on Tuesday in face of mounting opposition from within his own ranks.
With the health care bill in limbo the rest of Trump's agenda is also stalled. Indeed, despite full control of Washington, Republicans have yet to achieve any of their marquee legislative goals. The health legislation to get rid of "Obamacare" was supposed to come first, but it has proven far more difficult than anticipated. It stymied the House for much of the spring until a bill was finally passed in May, and now has the Senate tied in knots.Congressional leaders are eager to dispense with the issue and move on to other matters, including rewriting the nation's loophole-ridden tax code. That's why McConnell was hoping for votes this week on the health bill he crafted largely in secret, but senators needed more time, especially after a Congressional Budget Office report Monday showing 22 million people would lose insurance over the next decade.The bill has many critics and few outspoken fans on Capitol Hill, and prospects for changing that are uncertain."It's a big complicated subject, we've got a lot discussions going on, and we're still optimistic we're going to get there," McConnell said.https://youtu.be/7LH6iBWlZEwBut adjustments to placate conservatives, who want the legislation to be more stringent, only push away moderates who think its current limits — on Medicaid for example — are too strong.In the folksy analysis of John Cornyn of Texas, the Senate GOP vote-counter: "Every time you get one bullfrog in the wheelbarrow, another one jumps out."The Senate plan would end the tax penalty the law imposes on people who don't buy insurance, in effect erasing Obama's so-called individual mandate, and on larger businesses that don't offer coverage to workers.It would cut Medicaid, which provides health insurance to over 70 million poor and disabled people, by $772 billion through 2026 by capping its overall spending and phasing out Obama's expansion of the program.
17% approve of GOP Healthcare Bill. It is less popular than lice, traffic jams, & Genghis Khan. Not making this up. https://t.co/1uFEIjNGla— Ana Navarro (@ananavarro) June 28, 2017
ERICA WERNERALAN FRAM