Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell hopes to send a revised version of his health-care bill to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) by Friday.
The effort comes after McConnell scrapped plans to vote on a bill to repeal Obamacare before the July Fourth recess. McConnell opted to delay a planned vote after a handful of Republican senators said they could not support the bill as drafted.
McConnell is trying to move quickly to revise the bill and get a CBO score by the time lawmakers return in mid-July. The goal is now to move legislation before the August recess.
“Legislation of this complexity almost always takes longer than anyone would hope,” McConnell told reporters earlier this week. “But we’re pressing on.”
At least five Republican senators – including moderates like Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Dean Heller (R-NV) and conservatives like Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), Rand Paul (R-KY) and Mike Lee (R-UT) – had said they would not support the bill that McConnell drafted privately over the past several weeks. Even though Senate leadership is using reconciliation to evade any filibusters, McConnell still needs 50 of the Senate’s 52 Republican senators to support the bill.
Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) are other Republicans on the fence. Portman and Capito have been pushing for a longer transition for states that expanded Medicaid under the ACA, and for funding in the bill for states to treat and prevent opioid addiction.
On Monday, the CBO projected that the Senate health-care bill would leave 22 million Americans uninsured over a decade, further complicating McConnell’s bid to lock down enough votes. The bill also would cut the federal deficit by $321 billion over the next 10 years, which gives McConnell some room to perhaps add some funding for programs that senators want.
It’s unclear which parts of McConnell’s health-care bill will be changed, or how the majority leader will bring on board a widening group of conservatives and moderate Republicans who have been critical of the bill. There is mounting frustration among Republicans that they’ve not been able to repeal Obamacare and move on to other items on their agenda. After the July Fourth recess, lawmakers have to figure out a path forward on health-care, try to get a budget deal in the House and raise the debt ceiling, as well as advance lingering priorities like tax reform and infrastructure.