Ready or Not, McConnell Says Senate Voting on Health Care Tuesday

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the chamber would vote on a procedural motion on the health care measure on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell confirmed on Monday that the chamber would hold a procedural vote on Tuesday on a House-passed measure to overhaul the U.S. health insurance system.

“Seven years ago, Democrats forced Obamacare on the American people. It was supposed to lower health costs, but, of course, they skyrocketed. It was supposed to provide more health options, but they plummeted,” the Kentucky Republican said during his opening remarks. “I will vote yes on the motion to proceed. And I would urge all of our colleagues to do the same.”

Support from a simple majority of Republican members is needed to clear the motion to proceed. Should that happen, the chamber would kick off the so-called voterama after 20 hours of debate, a process under which virtually unlimited amendments could be offered from either party.

Republicans would then need only a simple majority of members’ support to pass any subsequent bill, under the fast-track budget procedure known as reconciliation that the GOP is using to advance the health overhaul.

It remains unclear what legislation McConnell would bring up for a vote should the procedural motion pass, but a number of GOP aides expect the first vote to be held on a bill that Congress passed in 2015 that would repeal large portions of the 2010 health law on a two-year delay. That measure was vetoed by former President Barack Obama.

Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer needled the GOP about the lack of clarity during his remarks on the floor Monday. 

“No one knows what we’re voting on. We know one thing: all the options are bad. There is no good way out of this. The truth is the Republicans are completely stuck when it comes to health care,” the New York Democrat said.

Lawmakers continue to work behind-the-scenes on a bill that would repeal portions of the health law, but also implement several replacement measures that would take effect at varying times over the next 10 years.

Senate Budget Chairman Michael B. Enzi of Wyoming confirmed on Monday that Republicans are working on revised language to address “hopefully all of the issues that the parliamentarian brought up” on Friday regarding the GOP bill to repeal and replace the 2010 health law. 

Several parts of the Senate health care bill would violate the chamber’s budget reconciliation rules, the Senate parliamentarian said in a guidance late Friday.

Provisions related to abortion, certain insurance regulations and funding the law’s cost-sharing subsidies could be struck under the so-called Byrd rule and would require 60 votes to survive.

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