WASHINGTON (Reuters)—U.S. Senate Republicans said Tuesday they will seek to bring their healthcare overhaul to the Senate floor next week after a lengthy intraparty struggle, but it remained unclear whether they had the votes to pass the measure or even what form it would finally take.
With his reputation as a master strategist on the line, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell laid out a timetable for Senate consideration of legislation to fulfill President Donald Trump’s campaign promise to dismantle the 2010 Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
In a departure from Republican orthodoxy on tax-cutting, the legislation likely will retain some of the taxes that were imposed on the wealthy under Obamacare, Senate sources said.
But it was unknown whether a revised version of the bill to be announced on Thursday morning can satisfy both moderates and hard-line conservatives in the Republican majority who voiced opposition to a draft unveiled last month on very different grounds.
With Trump urging the Senate to act before taking the August break, McConnell pushed back the Senate’s planned August recess by two weeks to allow senators more time to tackle the measure that would repeal key parts of Obamacare, as well as pursue other legislative priorities.
McConnell’s announcement drove a turn-around in stock prices in afternoon trading on Wall Street after an earlier sell-off, on hopes that a shortened recess could mean progress on the stalled Republican legislative agenda.
A dark mood lingered among some Republicans over the healthcare subject, with party leaders appearing to act because of the need to dispense with healthcare and turn to other issues, among them increasing the U.S. debt ceiling.
“I think we’ve narrowed down now to where we know where the decision points are, and we just have to make those decisions,” Senator John Thune, a junior member of the Republican leadership, told reporters. Leaders were still trying to “figure out how we get to 50” votes, he said.
Republicans, who hold 52 seats in the 100-seat Senate, would need 50 votes to pass the bill, with Vice President Mike Pence providing the tie-breaking vote.
“I am very pessimistic” about the prospects for Republican healthcare legislation, Chuck Grassley, a senior senator, told Fox News on Tuesday. Another Republican senator, Lindsey Graham, was working on his own healthcare proposal and will unveil it this week, a Graham aide said.
Keeping Obamacare Taxes
McConnell said the plan was to vote on the healthcare bill next week, and said he hoped to have a fresh analysis of the bill from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office at the start of the week. He did not reveal any of the planned changes to the draft, on which he postponed action last month after it failed to gather enough support.