With Rand Paul's Support (For Now), Republican Health Care Bill Survives First Senate Vote

They had to pass the motion to proceed to the bill to find out what's in the bill.


After weeks of will-they-or-won't-they tension, the Senate pulled together 50 votes (plus a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Mike Pence) on Tuesday afternoon to proceed to debate on the Republican health care bill.

Whether the bill—technically known as the Better Care Reconciliation Act—will pass, or what it will look like when it does, remain unanswered questions.

Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, who returned to applause on the Senate floor after getting treatment for brain cancer, provided the best indicator of the bill's tenuous status. McCain cast a critical vote in moving the bill forward and, shortly afterward, disparaged the bill and the legislative process used to try to pass it, raising questions about whether he will support the BCRA as it goes forward.

"I voted for the motion to proceed to allow debate to continue and amendments to be offered. I will not vote for this bill as it is today," McCain said. "It is a shell of a bill. We all know that."

Other Republican senators who have been outspoken critics of the GOP health care effort, including Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, voted in favor of motion to proceed. Paul announced his decision to back the initial vote while maintaining that he could oppose the final version of the bill if it did not go far enough to repealing Obamacare.

"If this is indeed the plan, I will vote to proceed and I will vote for any all measures that are clean repeal," Paul tweeted Tuesday morning.

After the vote, Paul released a video statement explaining some of the technical details about the votes to come.

Maine's Susan Collins, and Alaska's Lisa Murkowski were the two Republicans to vote against the motion to proceed. Both have been opposed to the bill during most of the Senate's negotiations over it.

With debate on the health care bill officially open, senators are now free to offer amendments to the bill. The first of what could be dozens of amendments is being debated at this moment. Each will be given a simple up-or-down vote, and votes are expected to run well into the evening.

The major amendments to watch, according to NBC News, will be offered by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio.

Cruz' amendment is expected to allow for the sale of so-called "catastrophic plans" currently outlawed by Obamacare. Allowing insurance companies to sell those cheaper options has been a major sticking point for some opponents of the Republican effort, including Paul. Portman's amendment is expected to authorize $100 billion in new Medicaid spending, something moderate Republicans have pushed to include in the bill.

Want more on the substance—such as it is—of the health care bill? Check out these links:

Bottom line: The Republican effort to repeal and replace Obamacare is alive, if barely, for now. After the rest of this evening's votes, we will have a better sense of what's actually in the bill and whether it has a chance to survive a final vote in the Senate, which could come as early as tomorrow.

This is a backwards way to write legislation, to say the least.

"I don't think that's going to work in the end," McCain predicted on the Senate floor Tuesday. "And it probably shouldn't."

Photo credit: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Newscom

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  1. McCain cast a critical vote in moving the bill forward and, shortly afterward, disparaged the bill and the legislative process used to try to pass it…

    Isn’t the first and won’t be the last to cover his butt on this thing.

  2. After weeks of will-they-or-won’t-they tension, the Senate pulled together 50 votes (plus a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Mike Pence) on Tuesday afternoon to proceed to debate on the Republican health care bill.

    It would have been priceless if Pence had said “Meh, the so-called debate’s already happened. Nay.”

  3. Why doesn’t the great Deal Maker negotiate a fantastic new health plan?

    1. Why doesn’t shreek pay his bet?

    2. He’s busy torturing Jeff Sessions until he quits so as to avoid one more obstruction of justice count.

  4. Just listening to Bill Nelson giving full flight to his retardedness – he claims some expertise as a former Insurance Commissioner for Florida yet he’s shocked and appalled that old people are being asked to pay more for healthcare than young people and that the costs of healthcare are being discussed as if you can put a price on someone’s life. Apparently doesn’t understand the difference between health care and health insurance and the first goddamn thing about economics.

    1. Apparently doesn’t understand the difference between health care and health insurance and the first goddamn thing about economics.

      He’s got plenty of company.

    2. Is the first goddamn thing about economics that you can indeed put a price on a human life?

      1. “Is the first goddamn thing about economics that you can indeed put a price on a human life?”

        Are you saying that you can’t put a price on human life?

        1. Well, you can.

          1. C’mon Tony, actuaries do it all the time, I believe the current number is $10 million. Without that, you can’t do a cost / benefit analysis, and worse, you start down the idiotic pathway of the Delaney Amendment (i.e. if anything at any detectable level has ever been found to cause cancer in man or animal, then it can’t be used in certain foods – idiotic because detection limits go down every year, and are now often far below the actual level of biological significance).

            1. Not even really sick people spend $10 million for their healthcare, so what’s the problem?

              1. You implied that a human life couldn’t be priced out, I responded.

                Certainly no one (not I at least) expects $10 million to be spent on himself.

      2. Tony, your ‘comrades’ do that with everyone, every day with the ACA. Valued through Comrade Ezekiel Emmanuel’s Complete Lives System.

  5. This is the worst PM Links ever.

    1. there were some for like 14 seconds.

  6. They’re voting on talking about maybe passing a bill at some point at an unknown point, so I’m not sure why anyone would be ‘against’ it. The fact Democrats couldn’t even vote yes on this meaningless shit is indicative of how likely it is that anything will come of it.

  7. Remind me, was it Collins or Snow that voted to allow the original Obumahcare bill to move to debate and thus on to passing when it was “deemed to have passed”? It better not have been Collins, if she couldn’t find it in her sense of fairness to vote in support of allowing the repeal bill to move to debate. Just sayin…..

    1. Susan Collins is a piece of garbage.

  8. Kerry Plan: Vote for; vote against.

  9. Sen. McCain upon returning to the Senate: “Let’s trust each other. Let’s return to regular order…we’re getting nothing done, my friends.”

    But I like it when you’re getting nothing done…

  10. They’re not going to weasel out of getting credit for voting for a toxic deathcare bill. They just want Trump’s permission to leave for August vacation at this point.

    1. Ha! Deathcare! When will these republicans realize that we need a government for all the people? That trickle down economics just doesn’t work? People need a hand up, not a hand out. If they would just pay their fair share, we could do the work that all Americans agree on. Because government is just the name we give to the things we choose to do together. We need a New, Better Deal. That would be change we could believe in. Not tax cuts for trillionaires. Healthcare is a right. There: I said it. It’s my body, my choice!

      1. Hey, it’s principles, not principals, pal. Democrats may be bad at slogans but at least they’re not all Orwellian lies.

        “Once we eliminate the social safety net, you will have the theoretical freedom to get healthcare. But you need only pay attention to the word ‘freedom.'”

        1. I heard Rush Limbaugh say that just yesterday!

          1. Louise, I’m the vice president of the Coalition for Moral Order! My co-founder has just died in the bed of an underage black whore!

            1. That’s Rand Paul, right?

        2. Orwellian lies? or simple lies “If you like your doctor you can keep your doctor, if you like your insurance, you can keep your insurance” That sort of thing?

          Plenty of shame on both sides on this one Tony, but only the D’s have the chutzspah to claim a vote out of committee was a vote to approve. At least Social Security passed with a significant margin, I’ll give that to FDR (may he burn in Hell), but they had to play procedural games to get Obumahcare through the sausage mill.

          1. Oh no, not procedural games! And Republicans so desperately tried to maintain regular order.

            1. LOL, as I said, plenty of shame on both sides.

              That’s why I like to see government small and weak… these clowns, be it Democrat, Republican, Tory or Labour, can’t handle it, it goes to their heads, at the cost of individual liberty and personal responsibility.

    2. Tony, the toxic death care bill is currently the (unconstitutional) law of the land.

  11. Housing is a right. Like where are we supposed to live when we leave our parents after going to free college?

    1. Back with your parents, of course.

    2. What are you going to free college from? Who’s keeping college prisoner?

    3. fema camp.

      You belong there

  12. I called my Senators’ Klobuchar and Franken, both lefties to complain that our premiums have nearly doubled in 2 years. They don’t give a fuck.

    Trying to get it done without breaking any rules, raising three kids with Mom, Dad and honest jobs is just not a Democratic party principle anymore. Anyway we have our white privilege, so we diserve what we get.

    Apparently transgender bathrooms and black lives matter are more important than we the lowly upper middle squeezed inured.

    1. because North Carolina passed a bill to discriminate against them, and Texas is doing the same?

      And you called your senators who have been shut off by the wingnuts from all debaye?

      You are a fucking moron.

      1. Thanks for the name calling, it really adds sizzle to the conversation.

        I call my Governor and Senators often to enlighten them with my opinions, whether they are frozen out of the debate or not- I like to be heard. Furthermore they work for me.

        Please take your medicine.

      2. Because Democrats allowed so many amendments to Obamacare from the GOP.

        Look in the mirror, fucking moron.

    2. I’m thinking about calling Portman and urging him to vote against his own Medicaid slush fund just for giggles.

      I probably won’t in the end because I’m an introvert and thus much better at trolling in writing.

  13. Aw, how cute
    Libertarian douchebag promising to vote only for repeal votes for MTP without knowing what the bill was.

    And reason.com Republicans are trying to play Hannity.


    1. Aw, how cute, a drooling Team Blue drone come here to “enlighten” us all.

      Do the letters FOAD mean anything to you?

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