The Senate could vote as early as next Thursday on legislation to reader the U.S. health care system, a lawmaker and lobbyists tell CQ Roll Call.
That is an ambitious timeline, especially since no legislative language has been made public and several lawmakers are still unsure exactly what proposals are under consideration. But GOP aides say Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is eager to move on past the health care issue and is charging ahead with a vote despite the uncertainty surrounding whether it could pass.
“I expect us to vote on it next week,” Sen. Richard M. Burr, R-N.C., told reporters on Monday.
The full text of the bill is expected to be released this week, lobbyists say, and a full report from the Congressional Budget Office could come early next week. That analysis is required for a Senate vote in order to ensure that the legislation complies with the fast-track budget procedure known as reconciliation that the GOP is using to advance the bill.
A McConnell spokesman said on Monday he had no scheduling updates to provide.
Republicans must grapple with several unresolved issues, including how quickly to phase out the expansion of the Medicaid program in the 2010 health law (PL 111-148, PL 111-152).
While several lobbyists say McConnell is likely close on the 50 votes he needs to advance the legislation — assuming a tie-breaker vote from Vice President Mike Pence — they were not confident about the bill’s passage.
When asked whether McConnell would put the legislation on the floor even if it were to fail, Burr said, “Sure, that’s what he said.”
The push to move forward on the bill comes as Democrats protest the secretive process Republicans have used so far. Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York on Monday evening renewed his request to McConnell for a meeting of all senators on health care. McConnell responded on the Senate floor by saying all 100 senators will be able to make their opinion heard during the legislative debate.
Schumer then asked if the Senate would have at least 10 hours to review the bill. McConnell answered that the Senate would have “ample opportunity to read and amend the bill.”
Andy Van Wye contributed to this report.