The Swine Line: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

Obamacare Repeal and Replace: It's the Senate's Turn

The Swine Line is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.

Tomorrow, on June 22, Senators are supposed to receive a discussion draft of the Senate version of the American Health Care Act (AHCA), an Obamacare repeal and replacement bill.  Currently, the goal is to vote on the legislation next week, just before the July 4 recess.  The House passed its version, H.R. 1628, on May 4, 2017, by a vote of 217 to 213.  Everyone in Washington is anxiously waiting to see and review the draft bill.

Most Senators have not seen the legislation and it is clear there are not yet enough Republican votes to pass it.  Since no Democrat is expected to vote for an Obamacare repeal bill, there is not much wiggle room within the Republican Caucus to get it out of the Senate.  Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) can only lose two Republican votes and would need Vice President Mike Pence (R-Indiana) to break a tie.  As discussed in prior Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) articles, the budget reconciliation process is being used to pass ACHA in order to avoid a Senate filibuster, which takes 60 votes to overcome.

Discussions are continuing as the 13 members of the Senate working group, appointed by Leader McConnell to craft the legislation, and their staff address suggested changes to, and concerns with, the Senate bill.

The working group has been in constant communication with the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and it is expected a score of the draft legislation will be presented to Leader McConnell early next week. Based on what we know, Senators, and everyone else, will have at least five to six days to read and review the draft legislation.

Once Leader McConnell brings the draft bill to the floor, there will be 20 hours of debate and then the “vote-a-rama” will begin.  Any Senator can offer up an amendment to the bill, provided it has a CBO score and does not violate reconcilation rules.  As a result, the working draft could end up looking very different by the end of the entire process.

CAGW hopes the Senate bill will keep and improve upon what is contained in H.R. 1628:  the rollback of the individual and employer mandates; elimination of the numerous Obamacare taxes that have raised healthcare costs; much needed Medicaid reform; and, allowing states to get out from underneath the Obamacare coverage mandates that have reduced choice in the types of healthcare plans people want and have driven up premium and deductibles.

If Leader McConnell sticks to his schedule, we will know soon enough what changes have been made to the House-passed AHCA.

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