When the Senate released a discussion draft of the Better Care Reconciliation Act on Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that he wanted to vote on it as early as the next week. But on Tuesday this week, he announced that the BCRA vote would be delayed. According to Politico, the Kentucky senator said, despite being optimistic last week about pushing the vote to this week, “Legislation of this complexity almost always takes longer than anyone would hope. But we’re pressing on.” McConnell added that they will hopefully take up the vote after the Fourth of July recess after making some changes to the bill and possibly getting a new Congressional Budget Office score.
The Senate is introducing the BCRA as a budget reconciliation bill, which means that Republicans only need 50 senators to approve it. However, many moderate and conservative Republicans opposed even bringing it to a debate, let alone a vote. Normally, voting to bring a bill up for debate is a procedural thing, but five Republican senators opposed the motion on Tuesday. The GOP can only afford to lose two senators if it wants to pass the bill, so it will likely be a busy week for McConnell and his team as they try to make enough compromises in a new version of the bill to get it to the floor.
Delaying the vote does not mean that it's totally dead, but it does mean that Senate Republicans underestimated the support they could get for the bill. Earlier Tuesday, Republicans, along with Vice President Mike Pence, met with opposing senators to discuss the bill. McConnell met with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, for example, for over an hour before heading to the lunch where he announced the delay on the bill.
McConnell and other Republican senators also went to the White House on Tuesday to talk to Donald Trump about the bill. McConnell warned the president that they would have to spend more time garnering support for the bill or "risk working with Democrats" like New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, who staunchly opposes the BCRA, on repealing and replacing parts of the Affordable Care Act. Because, of course, a bipartisan health care bill would be just awful, right? (Joking, of course.)
The plan is to make some changes, like adding funding for opioid addiction, according to West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, who was one of the Republican holdouts this week. McConnell hopes that over the recess, senators will "digest" the bill and then come back and vote on it.
McConnell also said that the president plans on being more involved in the discussions of the bill going forward. White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement, "For us, it is never been about the timeline but getting the best piece of legislation that helps the most."
Americans will have to wait another week or two to see what that "best" kind of health care legislation looks like. In the meantime, senators and representatives will be back in their hometowns, possibly holding town hall meetings to discuss any health care issues their constituents might have. Now's the time to let them know how you feel about the BCRA, one way or another.