With the July 4 congressional recess just one week away, it sounds like Senate Republicans are feeling pressure over their impending votes on their healthcare bill. While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been pushing to schedule a vote on the Better Care Reconciliation Act prior to the recess, some GOP senators are now indicating they might need more time to make up their minds.
A trio of key Republican senators indicated on the major Sunday morning shows that they either can’t support the bill in its current form or are still weighing concerns about it. Maine Sen. Susan Collins, for one, said she has “serious concerns” about the bill, citing its deep cuts to Medicaid and its stripping of federal funds from Planned Parenthood. And with the high-stakes vote potentially just days away, Collins cast doubt on the notion it could pass as currently constructed.
“It’s hard for me to see the bill passing this week,” Collins told ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos. “But that’s up to the majority leader.”
According to Collins, she’s currently partnering with Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski on an amendment to the bill that would restore Planned Parenthood’s funding. Both senators are rare supporters of the organization within the GOP.
Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson also urged McConnell to slow down, telling NBC News’s Chuck Todd that the Senate shouldn’t be rushing to hold a vote before the outcome is assured.
“I would like to delay the thing,” Johnson said, arguing that his constituents hadn’t had enough time to evaluate the bill, which was publicly released just days ago. “There’s no way we should be voting on this next week. No way.”
Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy has also voiced uncertainty on which way his vote would go, telling John Dickerson of CBS’s Face The Nation that he remains “undecided” on the bill, citing concerns around what it would mean for Louisianans.
“Right now I am undecided,” Cassidy said. “There are things in this bill that adversely affect my state, that are peculiar to my state.”
The Senate’s revision of the American Health Care Act the House passed in March, and the BCRA has yet to receive a score from the Congressional Budget Office. When the AHCA was scored following its passage, the numbers were not good for the Republicans: It projected that 23 million people would lose coverage by 2026.
Republican efforts to replace the Affordable Care Act have so far been hugely unpopular with the public at large. A recent Quinnipiac poll pegged popular support for the House bill at just 17 percent, an almost unheard-of figure. Given these numbers and the fact that the GOP is playing with a fairly narrow margin of error―they can afford to lose no more than two votes, and ostensibly lost one Saturday in Nevada Sen, Dean Heller―it wouldn’t be a shock to see McConnell change course and push the vote back until after the July 4 recess.
That, however, would mean senators would have to return to their constituents before casting their votes, which could have a chilling effect. Given the bill’s basement-level approval ratings and the heightened scrutiny it’s received in recent days, activists and advocates would almost certainly use the recess to make their voices heard, which could make the bill an even tougher lift when the Senate reconvenes on July 10.