Four conservative senators say they're not ready to support draft of ACA repeal bill

Rand Paul
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., will need some convincing before he votes for an ACA repeal bill drafted by a working group of GOP senators. (paul.senate.gov)

As reactions and analysis rolled in Thursday about the newly revealed Senate healthcare bill, it was still far from clear whether the draft, as written, could garner enough votes to pass within the GOP’s tight timeline.

Four conservative Republican senators—Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Ron Johnson and Mike Lee—issued a statement shortly after the bill was released saying they aren't ready to vote for this bill, but "are open to negotiation and obtaining more information" before it's brought to the floor.

“There are provisions in this draft that represent an improvement to our current healthcare system, but it does not appear this draft as written will accomplish the most important promise that we made to Americans: to repeal Obamacare and lower their healthcare costs,” they added.

With no Democratic senators expected to support the measure, Senate GOP leaders can only afford to lose two votes if they want to pass the bill. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said earlier this week that he plans to bring the bill up for a vote next week, before Congress leaves for its July 4 holiday break.

RELATED: Senate GOP unveils draft of healthcare overhaul bill

However, President Donald Trump may not be in as much of a rush, based on Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Sanders’ comments to reporters Thursday. “I don't think we're as focused on the timeline as we are on the final product,” she said.

The Congressional Budget Office said that it will issue its score for the bill “early next week.”

McConnell said in a speech on the Senate floor that he is looking forward to a “robust debate and an open amendment process” after the CBO’s score is released.

“I’m pleased that we were able to arrive at a draft that incorporates input from so many different members, who represent so many different constituents, who are facing so many different challenges,” he said.

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price also offered his support for the measure. 

"The Senate’s proposal is built on patient-centered reforms that put the American people in charge of their healthcare decisions, not government, protecting patients, bringing down the cost of coverage and expanding choices," he wrote in a statement.

Democrats, of course, weren't shy about expressing their opposition to the measure.

“Even as we continue to get more details, the broad outlines are clear,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said on the Senate floor. “This is a bill designed to strip away healthcare benefits and protections from Americans who need it most in order to give a tax break to the folks who need it least.”

Added Sen. Maria Cantwell, a Democrat from Washington: “If the House bill is mean, this is doubling down on mean.”

Left-leaning interest groups were similarly unforgiving. As Debra Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families, put it: “This is nothing more than a futile attempt to put lipstick on a pig.”

Even former President Barack Obama, whose signature legislation the Senate bill would unwind, weighed in via a lengthy Facebook post:

"Simply put, if there’s a chance you might get sick, get old, or start a family—this bill will do you harm," he wrote. "And small tweaks over the course of the next couple weeks, under the guise of making these bills easier to stomach, cannot change the fundamental meanness at the core of this legislation."

Watch McConnell and Schumer's remarks on the Senate floor:

Editor's note: This article has been updated to include quotes from Tom Price and Barack Obama.