Senate Health Care Vote Delayed as John McCain Recovers From Surgery
The Congressional Budget Office will not release a score on Monday for the Senate’s revised health care bill, pushing the upper chamber’s consideration back while Sen. John McCain recuperates in his home state of Arizona from surgery to remove a blood clot above his left eye. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — whom President Trump has put on notice, along with other Republicans in Congress, in the contentious and protracted struggle to repeal and replace Obamacare — relayed word on Saturday of the delay.
The New York Times elaborated:
Mr. McConnell had said that he wanted to begin debate on the bill and pass it this week, using special fast-track procedures. But without Mr. McCain, Senate Republicans would not have the votes they need to take up or pass their bill to repeal and replace major provisions of the health care act that was the signature domestic achievement of President Barack Obama.
It was unclear how long the delay will be. “The leader has not announced a date” for the Senate to take up the legislation, said an aide to Mr. McConnell. “Just that we will defer.”
The delay comes in the midst of considerable opposition to the bill and after McConnell had to postpone a July 4 vote after failing to garner enough support from GOP senators. Only two of their votes can be lost if the bill is to pass, while at least eight senators have expressed their deep reservations, according to Reuters:
“There are about eight to 10 Republican senators who have serious concerns about this bill,” Collins told CNN’s “State of the Union” program, faulting the bill for its major cuts to the Medicaid government health insurance program for the poor, which she said would harm rural hospitals and nursing homes.
“I don’t know whether it will pass, but I do know this, we should not be making fundamental changes in a vital safety net program that’s been on the books for 50 years – the Medicaid program – without having a single hearing to evaluate what the consequences are going to be,” she added.
In an attempt to win over more Republicans, a revised measure was released last week but was immediately opposed by Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Rand Paul of Kentucky. McCain has not revealed how he plans to vote on the bill but has expressed concerns about it in its current form, particularly in regard to how it was written: by McConnell, behind closed doors.
“Mr. McCain’s absence will give the forces of opposition — which include scores of health care provider organizations and patient advocacy groups — more time to mobilize,” The New York Times noted.