UPDATE — 5:41 p.m. EDT: Following leaks of a private meeting with Senate Republicans in which President Trump called the House healthcare bill “mean”, one lower chamber GOP member responded unkindly Wednesday to the president’s words.
“In terms of strategery, I hope he’s just trying to motivate the Senate,” said Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.). “Because he put all sorts of pressure on us to move the bill we passed.”
“To call a bill that he pushed ‘mean’ leaves us scratching our heads,” he continued.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has fast-tracked the House version of Obamacare’s repeal bill, titled the American Health Care Act, for a floor vote.
It is widely speculated the Republican-controlled Senate will use a procedure known as reconciliation to ensure Obamacare’s repeal and subsequent replacement law. Unlike regular order, reconciliation is a legislative procedure in which a budget bill is scheduled for a vote without being subject to a filibuster.
Reconciliation requires a simple majority vote for passage.
Although McConnell has indicated a vote to repeal former President Obama’s signature healthcare legislation has been scheduled, no date was given.
“We’ve had plenty of time to discuss this issue. . . . We’re getting close to having a proposal to whip and take to the floor,” McConnell told reporters on Capitol Hill.
Using the American Health Care Act as a model, the Senate is working on a version which would keep some of Obamacare’s provisions. Unlike the House version, which would sweep away Medicare expansion and eliminate protections for those with preexisting conditions immediately, the Senate measure would gradually phase out these key provisions over time.
CNN reported Tuesday that President Trump told Republican senators at a White House meeting that the House version of healthcare reform did not contain enough subsidies as he has urged members to “add more money” to the legislation to make it “generous, kind (and) with heart.”
However, according to Senate rules, $133 billion must be saved from overall budget spending on the bill, giving Republicans little room to expand federal healthcare benefits.
A matter which puts more conservative members at odds with McConnell and key GOP Senate leaders, senators such as Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) have argued to fulfill campaign promises to completely dismantle the law.
Most Senate Republicans who favor keeping some Obamacare taxes in place, argue it is necessary largely to fund provisions of the Affordable Care Act which will survive the GOP’s repeal effort.
A final version of the Senate bill for a floor vote is expected before the July 4 congressional break.
[The Hill] [Washington Post] [CNN] [AP] [Photo courtesy Mark Wilson/Getty Images via CNN]