GOP senators hope for revised healthcare bill by end of week

By Allen Cone  |  July 10, 2017 at 6:14 PM
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July 10 (UPI) -- Senate Republicans hope to put together revised healthcare legislation by the end of this week, a Senate GOP aide familiar with negotiations confirmed Monday.

The aide told CBS News that members of the Senate Republican Conference could be briefed when they meet for a closed-door lunch Tuesday.

A floor vote could take place as early as next week.

The Congressional Budget Office likely will release a cost estimate of the revamped measure before a vote. On June 26, the CBO said 22 million more people will be uninsured by 2026 under the Senate's Better Care Reconciliation Act. In the American Health Care Act approved by the U.S. House, the figure is 23 million.

Earlier Monday, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, one of 13 senators who worked with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky to craft new healthcare legislation, said a revised bill was expected to be unveiled later in the day. But a spokesman for McConnell later told CNBC that the majority leader does not "have any expectations of a bill release today" although a new CBO score is "forthcoming."

"We've got a new version that comes out today. We'll get new scores from CBO. And there's a shot of getting to 50 [votes]," Toomey told CNBC's Squawk Box on Monday morning.

Because all Democrats oppose replacing the Affordable Care Act, the Republicans can only lose two of their 52 votes.

But at least nine Senate Republicans -- including conservatives and moderates -- have publicly opposed the original version of the bill according to CBS News.

One senator not on that list, John McCain of Arizona, said Sunday on CBS's Face the Nation that the healthcare proposal was "probably going to be dead."

"I fear that it's going to fail, and then we should convene a Republican Conference and say, what are we going to do? Introduce a bill," McCain said. "Say to the Democrats, here's a bill. It doesn't mean they don't -- that they control it. It means they can have amendments considered. And even when they lose, then they're part of the process. That's what democracy is supposed to be all about."

Some senators have called for the cancellation of August recess.

President Donald Trump also suggested that Congress should postpone or cancel the recess. On Monday, he posted on Twitter: "I cannot imagine that Congress would dare to leave Washington without a beautiful new HealthCare bill fully approved and ready to go!"

Trump, however, doesn't plan to play a larger role in selling the Republican healthcare bill this week, an administration official told CNN Monday. And he won't travel the country to pitch the replacement for the ACA, known as Obamacare, the official said.

Though Trump has called Senators, he has not visited Capitol Hill in hopes of winning over Republican senators not supporting the legislation.

On Sunday, he tweeted: "For years, even as a "civilian," I listened as Republicans pushed the Repeal and Replace of ObamaCare. Now they finally have their chance!"

Marc Short, Trump's legislative affairs director, said Monday that "the President has remained very active in this debate, you will see him continue to remain so."

But during the off-camera briefing he said "it's a fair point" that Democrats were more organized messengers for their healthcare bill than Republicans have been.

On June 27, McConnell was forced to postpone a procedural vote on the original GOP Senate healthcare plan before the Fourth of July recess because he lacked the votes to pass it. The Republican Senators then went to the White House to meet with Trump.

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