The Stakes Are High For Senators Voting Against Trumpcare

by Joseph D. Lyons
Zach Gibson/Getty Images News/Getty Images

The Republicans' push to repeal Obamacare in the Senate has seen even more fits and starts than in the House, where the bill once seemed dead and then returned from the grave to pass at the beginning of May. Now, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is pushing to get debate on the bill underway in the Senate, even calling for a vote on Tuesday — despite the fact that he may not have the votes to ultimately pass a bill. To raise the stakes even further, President Trump has joined the debate and is pressuring the senators voting against Trumpcare.

Trump posted a screen capture from his Monday remarks on health care to Twitter with a menacing comment. "The question for every senator, Democrat or Republican, is whether they will side with Obamacare's architects or with its forgotten victims. Any senator who votes against starting debate is telling America that you are fine with the Obamacare Nightmare," the caption read.

The idea is pressuring Republicans into allowing debate, even if they plan to vote against the bill. So far, there are six Republicans who have committed to voting no against varying GOP bills, meaning it has a good chance of dying once again. Still, McConnell has said he will bring forward the bill from the House to begin debate. From there, it can be altered with amendments or even scrapped for one of the plans that the Republicans have created.

As for the Senate Republicans' plans, one bill would limit the benefits of Obamacare by reducing subsidies for the poor and elderly (some argue it's even worse than the House version). The other bill under consideration would scrap the Affordable Care Act all together and give Congress two years to come up with some sort of solution.

The only Republican on the record for planning to vote no on both versions is Sen. Susan Collins of Maine. She will likely vote against the procedural step to begin debate too. The question then is if other senators will join her. Had Sen. John McCain not been able to return to the Senate (he has been out since being diagnosed with brain cancer, but plans to return on Tuesday), Collins' vote would have been enough to stop the opening of debate.

Now that McCain will be back, though, Collins will need to find one other colleague to stop the debate from happening. Rand Paul had been against beginning debate on the Senate's repeal and replace version of the bill earlier this month, but it's unclear where he stands on taking up the House version — especially if the debate could move towards repealing Obamacare altogether. Also on the record against the repeal and replace bill were Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Jerry Moran of Kansas. Their take on opening debate is uncertain.

Two other senators, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, have said they won't sign a repeal-only bill. Like Lee, Moran, and Paul, though, their views on taking up the House bill remain unclear. Politico reported they are trying to feel out McConnell's end goal before committing.

Usually this sort of thing would be worked out in advance, but you might have to watch the Senate floor happenings unfold live on Tuesday to see which of these Republicans votes against Trumpcare.