Facing growing opposition amongst some members of his own party, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Tuesday that the chamber won’t vote on his health care bill until after the July 4 recess. A total of nine Republican Senators have thus far publicly opposed the legislation, though three went public with their stance only after the delay was announced.
Democrats are expected to unanimously vote against the bill. That means Republicans can only afford two defections for the legislation to pass.
Here’s a rundown of the Republican Senators who oppose the bill and why. This list only includes Senators who have explicitly said they are not supporting the current version of the bill.
Who opposes the bill?
Sens. Ted Cruz, Ron Johnson, Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Dean Heller, Susan Collins, Jerry Moran, Shelley Moore Capito and Rob Portman.
Cruz, Johnson, Paul, and Lee said on June 22 that they are not ready to vote for the bill as is, although they are open to negotiations to change it. Heller followed suit on June 23, becoming the fifth person to oppose the bill.
Following a Maine Senator Susan Collins said on June 26 she could not support the bill. Her decision followed a report from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office which estimated that 22 million fewer Americans would be insured by 2026 under the legislation compared to current law.
“I want to work w/ my GOP & Dem colleagues to fix the flaws in ACA,” Collins tweeted. “CBO analysis shows Senate bill won’t do it. I will vote no on [motion to proceed].”
After McConnell announced the vote was delayed, Kansas Senator Jerry Moran said he didn’t support the legislation because it “missed the mark” for his constituents.
Shortly after Moran’s comments, Capito and Portman issued a joint statement announcing they don’t support the bill because the Medicaid cuts are too steep and because they said it doesn’t do enough to fight the opioid epidemic.
Why are they against the bill?
In a joint statement, Cruz, Johnson, Paul and Lee said they oppose the bill because it does not fully repeal the Affordable Care Act, a signature legislative achievement of Barack Obama’s presidency.
“There are provisions in this draft that represent an improvement to our current health care 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 health care costs,” reads the statement.
Heller, who is up for reelection in Nevada in 2018, expressed concerns over the size of the Medicaid cuts. He said the bill would adversely impact his constituents who had benefitted from the program’s expansion under the Affordable Care Act. “It’s simply not the answer,” he said at a news conference. “And I’m announcing today that in this form, I simply will not support it.”
Collins, Portman and Capito have similar concerns. While explaining her lack of support for the bill, Collins noted that 1 in 5 of her Maine constituents are on Medicaid, and argued the legislation doesn’t do enough to provide healthcare to her state’s rural residents.
What would have to change to gain their support?
This is where the ideological divisions in the Senate come into play. The more conservative Senators who oppose the bill thus far want a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act. They also say the draft legislation does not do enough to lower health care premiums.
“That should be the central issue for Republicans — repealing Obamacare and making healthcare more affordable,” said Cruz in a statement to CNN.
But a full repeal of Obamacare, which would likely carry deep Medicaid cuts, is unlikely to fly with the likes of Collins, Heller, Capito and Portman. Thus, for the bill to pass, McConnell and other Senate leaders must find a way to appease both sides.
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