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Senate rejects ObamaCare repeal, replacement amendment
The Senate rejected a key proposal repealing and replacing ObamaCare on Tuesday night, as senators start a days-long debate on healthcare.
Senators voted 43-57 on a procedural hurdle for the measure that included the GOP repeal and a replace bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act, as well as proposals from GOP Sens. Ted Cruz (Texas) and Rob Portman (Ohio).
GOP Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Bob Corker (Tenn.), Tom Cotton (Ark.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Dean Heller (Nev.), Mike Lee (Utah), Jerry Moran (Kan.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Rand Paul (Ky.) voted against the repeal-replace proposal on the procedural hurdle. No Democrats voted for it.
The proposal was the first amendment to get a vote after senators took up the House-passed healthcare bill, which is being used as a vehicle for any Senate action, earlier Tuesday.
But it was widely expected to fail because it needed 60 votes because the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) didn't analyze either the Cruz or Portman proposal that was packaged in with BCRA.
Tuesday night's vote doesn't prevent GOP leadership from offering another repeal and replace amendment, or another version of BCRA.
It could also help GOP leadership get rank-and-file senators on the record, as they try to figure out a path forward.
A vote on an amendment that would repeal much of ObamaCare is expected on Wednesday.
Cruz acknowledged ahead of the late night vote that the amendment wasn't likely to be approved, but appeared optimistic that Republicans would be able to get to an agreement before a final vote this week.
"I will say the bill before the Senate ... is not likely to pass tonight but I believe at the end of the process the contours within it are likely to be what we enact, at least the general outlines," Cruz said from the Senate floor ahead of the vote.
Cruz said he expects his amendment to end up in the final version of the healthcare bill.
"I believe we will see the consumer freedom amendment in the legislation that is ultimately enacted," he said.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Ala.) was greeted by protestors outside the Capitol who chanted "stay strong Lisa."
Asked whether she would support a "skinny repeal" bill, she said it's not clear what it would entail.
"I don't know that any of us have defined what that might be."
The Texas Republican's provision would give insurance companies more flexibility on what kind of health insurance plans they provided, as long as they sold some plans that met the ObamaCare requirements.
Portman's, meanwhile, would aim to lower insurance costs for individuals in Medicaid expansion states, like the Ohio Republicans, but could also apply to other low-income Americans.
The provision would add $100 billion to the bill's state stability fund to help people who might lose the coverage they got under ObamaCare's Medicaid expansion. These funds could help cover out-of-pocket costs like deductibles and copays.
Portman said he "worked with the president, vice president and administrative officials" to "improve this bill further to help out low-income Ohioans."
[Source: By Jordain Carney, The Hill, Washington, 25Jul17]
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