Health Care Bill onto the Senate, what does its future look like?

The U.S. house of representative voted on May 4, 2017 to approve the GOP’s health care bill and the American Health Care Act of 2017 was passed with 217 votes for, and 213 votes against. The bill was passed largely on party lines with every congressional Democrat and 20 congressional Republicans voting against. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has since released its statement as well, concluding that the bill would save billions but cost approximately 23 million Americans their health coverage.

What Happens to The Health Care Bill Now?

Usually a bill that is passed by the House of Representatives would go onto the Senate for a vote. However, the Republican majority in the Senate has suggested that they will rewrite the American Health Care Act in an effort to guarantee passage.

The Business Insider reported that there is a lack of support for the currently amended AHCA among senate republicans. Senator Lindsey Graham (R) of South Carolina tweeted, “A bill–finalized yesterday, has not been scored, amendments not allowed, and three hours final debate–should be viewed with caution.” The latest skeptic on the bill is top GOP Senator Richard Burr (R-N.C), stating in a local TV interview, “It’s unlikely that we will get a healthcare deal.”

New Republican Strategy

The tactic known as a “filibuster” is generally used to force a larger majority than a simple 51% to pass a bill in the U.S. Senate. This is done by extending debate indefinitely and requiring 60 out of 100 Senate members to vote on ending the debate, thereby beginning the vote on the bill at hand.
Senate Republican strategy for their amended AHCA is to use budget reconciliation, in which the AHCA is debated as part of the 2017 federal budget. Senate rules state that debate on budgetary matters cannot exceed twenty hours, therefore eliminating the option of a Democratic filibuster and requiring only 51 senators to pass the bill.

Unknown Timeline

Senate Republicans want to vote on their amended bill before their August recess, and their version of the AHCA is currently being written. It will need to have significant differences than the bill that passed the house in order to secure the 51 vote majority needed if the bill is passed through budget reconciliation.

Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price has been publicly pressing the Senate on a timeline, as well as house GOP members. According to The Hill, the only thing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had to say on the matter was that “[republicans] will move forward sometime in the near future.”

For now it seems like there can be no reasonable predictions made as to when a next vote will be take on the GOP’s health care bill.

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