Political News

How to watch the Senate health care debate and how we got here

Posted July 27

With Republicans controlling both houses of Congress and President Donald Trump eager to repeal, their chance to fulfill their campaign promise to jettison Obamacare has arrived.

But it hasn't been so simple, given the differing priorities among the 52 Senate Republicans. Moderates want to make sure that people back home wouldn't be hurt by a repeal bill while conservatives want more regulations repealed.

RELATED: The Republican health care strategy: Pass bill first, fix it later

Here's how the Senate debate will go down -- and what you may have missed:

Thursday's schedule

* The Senate reconvened at 10 a.m. ET. There are roughly 10 hours on the debate clock.

* The first amendment vote scheduled is for shortly after 2 p.m. ET -- a "Medicare for All" bill. This is a Republican amendment but it's really a record to get Democrats on the record for or against a "single payer" health care plan. GOP senators will oppose it.

* Once the debate clock runs out, or either or both sides yield back their time, that is when the vote-a-rama starts -- sometime after dinner, most likely.

* When will it end? When senators from both sides run out of amendments. It's like baseball: there's no clock.

* What's the final bill? The leading (and perhaps only) option at this point is a pared back repeal plan (known on the Hill as "skinny" repeal.) This proposal isn't public yet and is still being drafted, but the idea is to limit the final measure to only a few items at least 50 senators can agree on. The idea being pitched by leaders is to pass it, then move into a conference negotiation between the House and the Senate. There they'd hammer out a compromise that can again pass both sides of Congress and reach President Donald Trump's desk for his signature.

* Can that get the 50 votes needed to pass? Stay tuned.

How the Senate has voted this week

1. YES to proceed to floor debate

On Tuesday, Senate Republicans voted to advance to a floor debate on health care in a narrow 51-50 vote with Vice President Mike Pence breaking the tie.

Vote tally: How each senator voted on GOP health care motion

2. NO to a repeal-and-replace proposal

The Senate Tuesday rejected a repeal-and-replace proposal in a 43-57 vote. It would have allowed bare-bones health insurance plans not permitted under Obamacare and provided $100 billion in extra money for people on Medicaid desired by moderate Republicans.

3. NO to a repeal-only measure, with a two-year delay

The Senate Wednesday rejected a proposal to repeal Obamacare without an immediate replacement in a 45-55 vote.Seven Republicans opposed the measure.Bill was modeled on 2015 legislation that was passed by Congress before it was vetoed by then-President Obama.The repeal would not go into effect for two years -- during which Republicans said they would draft a replacement.

What is the "skinny repeal?"

The so-called "skinny repeal" of Obamacare would start with a repeal of only the individual and employer mandates as well as the medical device tax. It may expand in the hours ahead as Senate leaders try and corral the necessary votes, but that's the bare bones version of what's on the table.

The individual mandate requires nearly all Americans to obtain health insurance or pay a penalty, and the employer mandate requires larger companies to provide affordable coverage to their full-time workers.

CNN Money: 'Skinny repeal' of Obamacare would wreck the insurance market

Experts have already warned the skinny repeal could drive up the cost of insurance and destabilize the individual insurance market. But the ultimate goal Thursday is to get to a conference committee.


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