Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act may still be alive: Sen. Bill Cassidy is predicting a victory for his healthcare bill, and he said that the GOP nearly has enough votes to pass the measure.
Cassidy, R-Louisiana, who teamed up with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, for the healthcare bill, estimated the GOP is at 48 to 49 yes votes, and said he's "talking to two or three more" senators, according to an article from The Hill.
"I am pretty confident that we'll get there on the Republican side," Cassidy said.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is holding a series of private party meetings this week to gauge support for the bill, according to an article from Politico. McConnell has yet to decide if the bill will come to a vote, but he's likely to bring it to the floor if he can garner the support of 50 GOP senators.
“McConnell and his team are engaged and serious about the vote and working with the conference to build support for Graham-Cassidy,” a source familiar with the bill’s prospects told the publication.
The Graham-Cassidy bill would repeal the ACA and replace it with an annual block grant to states that would "help individuals pay for healthcare." It was unveiled on the same day as a Democratic bill, led by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, that would transition the country to a single-payer healthcare system.
The Senate has an extremely slim window to pass the Graham-Cassidy plan, and prior attempts at repealing the ACA failed when it came down to the final few votes. The Senate's "skinny repeal" was spiked in dramatic fashion by a last-minute no vote from Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, has already said he opposes the bill, and Paul and Cassidy debated the bill's merits in a Twitter exchange over the weekend, where Paul did not seem to be convinced by Cassidy's argument:
I can't support a bill that keeps 90% of Obamacare in place. #GrahamCassidy is not repeal or replace, it is more Obamacare Lite— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) September 15, 2017
.@RandPaul GCHJ repeals entire architecture of Obamacare & gives Kentucky control over its own health care. Willing to go over it with you.— Bill Cassidy (@BillCassidy) September 15, 2017
.@BillCassidy it keeps 90% of Obamacare spending and 90% of Obamacare taxes. No thanks.— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) September 15, 2017
Though it's still unclear whether the bill can pass the Senate, Graham said that Vice President Mike Pence called his office to say the Trump administration is fully behind the measure, according to an article from The Wall Street Journal.
Meanwhile, Democratic senators took to social media to encourage voters to take a stand against the measure and contact their legislators:
This is happening. Drop what you are doing to start calling, start showing up, start descending on DC. Game on. https://t.co/WrNVAhXTcJ— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) September 17, 2017
The fight to save heath care isn't over. Sound the alarm. We need you to fight today & every day until this @SenateGOP bill is dead.— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) September 17, 2017
Update, 3:14 p.m.:
The Graham-Cassidy bill may have inched closer to passing Monday afternoon, when McCain said in an interview with NBC News that he would back the bill if Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey approved the measure. He said he preferred a bipartisan solution, but that he would "reluctantly" approve it if Ducey did.
McCain tells @GarrettHaake he wants bipartisan bill with wks of hearings. BUT may "reluctantly" back Graham-Cassidy if AZ Gov approves— Benjy Sarlin (@BenjySarlin) September 18, 2017
Ducey tweeted his support for the bill later on Monday, saying it's time for Senate to "get the job done."
If McCain were to become a yes vote, all eyes would turn to Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Paul, who are still likely holdouts.