It turns out that repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act is a little more complicated than just signing an executive order, but the long, drawn-out process has reached another milestone, now that the GOP has unveiled its deceptively-titled Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017. So what's the next step for the Senate health care bill? First, the Congressional Budget Office has to give it another run-though and submit a report. You might recall that the last time around, back when the bill was called the American Health Care Act, the CBO determined that 23 million Americans stood to lose their coverage if the it passed, but we'll see if that number changes.
Next, we'll likely see Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — currently the only supporter of the bill — running around Capitol Hill, desperately trying to get his colleagues on board, just like House Speaker Paul Ryan did this past spring, when the ball was in his court. The bill needs the support of at least 50 Republicans in order to pass (Vice President Mike Pence would break the tie), meaning no more than two can defect. But as of Friday afternoon, five GOP members had spoken out against it.
Nevada Sen. Dean Heller said in a press conference on Friday that the claim that the bill would lower premiums is a "lie," according to CNN. That was also the chief complaint cited by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Utah Sen. Mike Lee, Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson in a joint statement on Thursday. Cruz stated that the party's primary focus should be repealing Obamacare and lowering insurance costs, and none of the senators support the bill in its current form. The bill would also need to be reconciled with the previous version in order to allow for a filibuster-proof simple majority vote.
This all leads up to the debates. Democrats and Republicans will each have 10 hours to make motions and suggest amendments in order to make the bill less terrible. After that comes a vote-a-rama, and no, that is not a joke. A vote-a-rama is basically sly way to filibuster by tossing out amendment after amendment and demanding the Senate vote on them with little to no debate. They usually go all night, according to The New York Times, and as the last line of defense before a vote, I can already see Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders stocking up on Red Bull and adult diapers. Fingers crossed! Then, finally, there's the vote. All this is expected to take place within the next week, so don't take your eyes off of your screens for a minute.