The No. 2 Republican in the Senate says senators will vote next week on a new healthcare bill to repeal and replace key parts of the Affordable Care Act. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas told reporters on Monday that the revised legislation will be unveiled this week.
Meanwhile, President Trump pressured divided Senate Republicans on Monday to pass the bill in the next few weeks. He tweeted, "I cannot imagine that Congress would dare to leave Washington without a beautiful new HealthCare bill fully approved and ready to go!"
The measure is currently under renewed attack from within the GOP, with a moderate senator calling for a bipartisan approach and a conservative saying Republicans were "at impasse," adding that party leaders were trying to "buy off" lawmakers' votes.
Senators were returning to the Capitol after a weeklong July 4 recess that, if anything, saw GOP support erode for a bill fashioned by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The measure would erase much of the Affordable Care Act, President Obama's signature reform, and scale back its coverage requirements, end its penalty on people not buying coverage, cut Medicaid, and eliminate tax boosts on wealthier people.
McConnell is currently tweaking his bill after having had to abruptly cancel a vote last month because of lack of support. He is studying changes aimed at gaining Republican support for the bill, which has encountered opposition from both ends of the party's spectrum. GOP leaders hoped they could push it through the Senate before Congress departs again for an August recess.
Proposed revisions include rolling back some of its Medicaid cuts, adding additional money to combat abuse of opioids and other drugs, beefing up healthcare subsidies for lower earners, and allowing insurers to sell low-cost policies offering meager coverage.
Moderate Sen. Susan Collins told reporters she hoped McConnell's changes "are more than tweaks and they're an overhaul of the approach, or else I won't be able to support it." She said lawmakers of both parties "should work together to fix" flaws in Obama's law — an approach that would contradict GOP doctrine, which has long called for repealing the 2010 statute.
Collins has criticized the bill for causing millions of people to lose healthcare coverage and blocking federal payments to Planned Parenthood.
Conservative Sen. Rand Paul, who has repeatedly said the GOP bill doesn't go far enough in dismantling Obama's statute, said it will "have to look more like repeal" for him to support it.
"I think we're still at impasse," Paul told reporters Monday in Shelbyville, KY. "Some people think that they can add enough goodies, federal spending on there, to buy off the votes of Republicans."
Paul said he spoke with Trump over the weekend. He said he thinks the president wants "what I want, which is a conservative vision of healthcare which involves repealing Obamacare."
At least a dozen GOP senators have expressed opposition to McConnell's initial bill or criticized it. Republicans hold a 52-48 majority and Democrats stand united against the bill, meaning that just three GOP defections will doom it.
It remains uncertain whether McConnell will be able to get the 50 GOP votes he needs given the slim margin for error in the Senate. As of now, he is trying to pass the bill with only Republican support, with Vice President Mike Pence as a tie-breaker if needed.