Senate GOP targets next week for vote on healthcare bill

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., says there will be plenty of time to read and amend the healthcare bill that his party is crafting before it is brought up for a vote. (Gage Skidmore / CC BY-SA 2.0)

If all goes according to plan, Republicans will vote next week on their version of a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

However, that timeline is nothing if not fluid—especially since Senate GOP leaders can afford to lose only two votes, with Vice President Mike Pence serving as a possible tiebreaker.

As early as the end of this week, senators could get their first look at the bill that a 13-member Republican working group has been developing largely behind closed doors, Politico reported. That would mean Republicans would have roughly a week to review the legislation—which some are comfortable with, and others not so much.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said there will be plenty of time to read and amend the bill, and refused Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s request for him to commit to at least 10 hours to review the measure before it is brought to the floor.

But Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, expressed some doubt about whether the chamber would be able to vote on the measure this month, noting “it’s not a light bill,” according to Politico.

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Democrats, of course, were also not pleased with the tight timeline, pointing out that Congress debated the ACA for weeks.

"We had a month of debate in the United States Senate in 2009—that seems like a reasonable amount of time" for the GOP bill, said Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., according to the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.).

The Congressional Budget Office is expected to release its score Senate bill’s early next week, the article added, possibly setting up a vote next Thursday.

In addition to the results of the forthcoming CBO analysis and the challenge of appeasing both moderate and conservative GOP senators, McConnell is also facing pressure from the House.

The conservative Republican Study Committee plans to send a letter to McConnell that lays out four components of the House-passed healthcare bill that it says are “particularly crucial” to maintaining support from GOP lawmakers in that chamber, according to the Independent Journal Review.