Vice President Mike Pence had to cast the tie-breaking vote Tuesday afternoon in order for Republicans to push forward on healthcare reform.
Minutes after the vote, the president announced from the Rose Garden that the Senate successfully passed a key motion to proceed to debate on repealing and possibly replacing Obamacare.
The GOP-heavy Senate gained additional support throughout the morning as several senators who had been on the fence about the motion announced they’d vote in support of Senate GOP leaders who urged Republicans to come together.
Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), who was recently diagnosed with brain cancer, returned to Capitol Hill on Tuesday to cast a key vote and provide a great speech that urged both sides of the Senate to unite.
Vice President Pence cast the tie-breaking vote after two Republicans and all Democrats voted against the motion. The two Republican senators were Susan Collins, (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).
After seven years of complaining about Obamacare and promising change, today’s vote was a huge moment for Trump and the GOP. Nearly every member of the GOP had promised voters they would repeal and replace Obamacare.
However, this is just one step moving forward, and the GOP may fall short of the ultimate goal of ending all aspects of Obamacare.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT
According to NBC NEWS:
The Senate will begin debate and votes on a variety of approaches to the bill, beginning with a vote on the 2015 version of the repeal of Obamacare, senators and aides say. That vote is expected to fail.
Then the Senate will turn to the current replacement bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act, with an amendment from Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, that allows the sale of catastrophic plans, and an amendment by Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, that would add $100 billion in additional spending on Medicaid.
The BCRA amendment is likely to need 60 votes because neither the Cruz nor the Portman amendment have been scored by the Congressional Budget Office. That means it cannot pass under special reconciliation rules allowing a simple majority approval. Since it would need Democratic votes, it is likely to fail.
The plan after those two votes is for senators to proceed to votes on a series of amendments to create what leadership has called a “skinny” repeal, which is a watered-down version of repeal with nothing to replace it.
The goal would be to eliminate Obamacare’s individual mandate penalty, the employer mandate penalty, and the tax on medical devices. A broader repeal would also have ended Medicaid’s expansion, get rid of or replace the Obamacare subsidies that help people purchase insurance and repeal more — or all — of Obamacare’s taxes.
The Senate would then go to conference with the House of Representatives, where conferees would work out a final bill. Both chambers would then have to vote on the reconciled bill.
The motion to proceed was not expected to pass, but then Sen. Rand Paul went on a Twitter frenzy on Tuesday morning to announce he supports this plan and would vote “yes” on the motion. Paul said he was satisfied with the plan going forward.
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