WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the effort by congressional Republicans to pass a health care bill (all times local): 11:30 a.m. Sen. Rand Paul says he will vote “yes” on a pivotal health care vote Tuesday afternoon after receiving assurances from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Paul had been a holdout against McConnell’s plans for legislation to repeal and replace “Obamacare.” He argued it did not go far enough in getting rid of the Obama law. But Paul says McConnell has informed him the Senate will take up a straight-forward repeal bill as he has been urging. And if that’s the case he will vote “yes” to open debate on the legislation.
Tuesday’s vote is make-or-break because if the Senate does not vote to open debate the bill will die. But if debate starts there will be numerous amendments — and repeal-only is not likely to be the final product.
__ 11:15 a.m. Republicans are showing signs of optimism that they’ll be able to take up the health care bill. Senators and aides said talks were continuing that might win over enough Republicans to start debate Tuesday.
The discussions involved holding an early vote on a plan scuttling much of the Obama health law and giving Congress two years to enact a replacement. That plan, embraced by conservative Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., seems likely to lose. But Paul has said that he will vote to bring up the GOP health bill if he is guaranteed that early vote.
Moderates are seeking additional money for states that would be hurt by cuts in Medicaid, the health insurance program for the poor, the disabled and nursing home patients. Conservatives want a vote on a proposal by Ted Cruz, R-Texas, letting insurers offer bare-bones policies with low premiums, which would be illegal under Obama’s law.
__ 7:20 a.m. President Donald Trump says “we will soon see whether or not Republicans are willing to step up to the plate!” on health care. Trump has been pressuring Senate Republicans to vote on a health care bill “after 7 years of talking.” A procedural vote is planned for Tuesday.
Trump says on Twitter Tuesday morning that Obamacare is “torturing” Americans. He says “I have pen in hand” to sign a bill and is urging a vote either to repeal, or to repeal and replace the Obama law.
Trump says it’s “so great” that ailing Republican Arizona Sen. John McCain is returning to Washington to vote for the first time since being diagnosed with brain cancer. Trump’s describes McCain’s move as “brave” and the senator as an “American hero.” During the 2016 campaign, Trump questioned McCain’s status as a war hero, saying, “He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”
__ 4:58 a.m. Republican leaders are steering the Senate toward a crucial vote on their health care bill with a fresh burst of drama and optimism, thanks to Sen. John McCain’s declaration that he’ll return to the Capitol for the roll call.
Before the announcement by the cancer-stricken McCain, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had already planned an initial vote for Tuesday on simply beginning debate on the Republican effort. A victory seemed unlikely because of opposition and criticism from GOP senators toward McConnell’s bill, which would erase much of President Barack Obama’s law.
McCain’s office announced his decision to return late Monday, improving McConnell’s odds. In fact, McCain’s announcement suggested Republican leaders had a good chance of prevailing since it seemed unlikely they’d bring him back if the measure was doomed.