WASHINGTON ― The fate of health care for millions of Americans may, once again, come down to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
It was McCain in July who sank Republican hopes of a “skinny repeal,” siding at the last minute with Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) to vote against the Senate GOP’s scaled down health care bill.
At the time, McCain said he was voting no because of the bad process that Republicans had used to bring up the bill, where they skipped committee hearings, markups and amendments to just put the legislation up for a vote with a less than solid idea of the policy effects.
Now McCain is making a similar argument.
“I want regular order,” McCain told HuffPost on Wednesday, a chorus he has repeated over and over again this week.
When asked if that meant he was still a no, McCain said, “I want regular order, is the answer.”
It’s a less than clear answer, but it’s one that McCain has shown he is serious about, and if he truly intends to demand a process close to “regular order,” McCain could be the deciding Republican once again in sinking the GOP’s newest health care plan.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office told reporters Wednesday that it was the Kentucky Republican’s “intention” to bring up this bill ― authored by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) ― for a vote next week.
Republicans only have until Sept. 30 to get this bill through the House and Senate before the legislative vehicle they’re using expires. (Republicans are using a fiscal 2017 budget resolution to try to pass their health care legislation through reconciliation, a process that only requires 51 votes in the Senate, with the help of Vice President Mike Pence breaking a tie.)
After Sept. 30th, Republicans could use another budget resolution to pass their bill, meaning this proposal wouldn’t necessarily be dead at the end of the week, but the whole process would take more time, and the Congressional Budget Office will likely be able to score the legislation before lawmakers vote on the bill. As it stands now, Senators intend to vote on the Graham-Cassidy bill with only a “preliminary” CBO score ― one that won’t have a complete analysis on the legislation’s effect on premiums, deficits or how many people would end up losing health insurance as a result.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) looks resolute in voting against the Graham-Cassidy proposal. Collins is likely to follow suit, though she…