After more than a month of closed-door meetings and criticism from even their own party, Senate Republicans have finally revealed their changes to the American Health Care Act. Here's how to read the new health care bill. The bill is 142 pages long, and about 40 Senators are just laying eyes on it for the first time on Thursday morning, just like the rest of America. But it's a lot more frustrating for them, because according to CNN, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants to call for a vote on June 29.
That leaves just one week for the Congressional Budget Office to review the bill and issue a report. Senators would then need to read the entire bill, as well as the CBO report, before they could make an informed decision. Is there enough time for that? Not really. According to the Washington Post, that's precisely why the bill's text was kept secret for so long. If nobody knows what's in the bill, nobody can oppose it. Groups that might otherwise lobby Senators to vote against it have been effectively silenced. And that's not sitting well with citizens, Senate Democrats, and even some members of the GOP.
The Senate has made some significant changes to the House's American Health Care Act, which passed in early May after changes meant to appease the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus. Despite control of the House, the bill passed just 217 to 213. Every Democrat voted against it, and 20 Republicans defected, as well. The new health care bill, rebranded as the "Better Care Reconciliation Act," needs 50 votes to pass (Vice President Mike Pence being the tie breaker). No Democrat is expected to vote in favor of the bill, which means that Republicans can't afford to lose more than two of their own.
According to the Washington Post, as of Thursday morning, 11 Republicans had expressed "concerns" about the bill that their own party refused to let them see, and McConnell is the only Senator who's actually voiced his support. He'll need to convince his colleagues that their fears were unfounded, lest the bill fail. And while some Republicans will no doubt be pleased with tax cuts for the wealthy and the continued erosion of reproductive freedom, 31 are from states that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, according to the Post, and eight are up for reelection. Voting the new bill through could cost them their jobs. Now it's time for constituents to pull an all-nighter to figure out what's in that bill, and let their Senators know what they think.