By ALAN FRAM
WASHINGTON — Republican opposition to the GOP health care bill swelled to near-fatal numbers Sunday as Sen. Susan Collins all but closed the door on supporting the last-ditch effort to scrap the Obama health care law and Sen. Ted Cruz said that “right now” he doesn’t back it.
In a late bid to win votes and stave off defeat, Republicans were adding $14.5 billion to the measure for states, according to documents obtained late Sunday by The Associated Press.
White House legislative liaison Marc Short and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., one of the
measure’s sponsors, said Republicans would press ahead with a vote this week. But the comments by Collins and Cruz left the Republican drive to uproot President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act dangling by an increasingly fraying thread.
A vote must occur this week for Republicans to prevail with their narrow Senate majority. Next Sunday, protections expire against a Democratic filibuster, bill-killing delays that Republicans lack the votes to overcome.
President Donald Trump seemed to distance himself from the showdown, saying his “primary focus” was his party’s drive to cut taxes.
“I don’t know what they’re doing,” Trump told reporters about the bill’s GOP opponents as he prepared to fly back to Washington after a weekend at his New Jersey golf club. “But you know what? Eventually we’ll win, whether it’s now or later.”
Two GOP senators, Rand Paul of Kentucky and John McCain of Arizona, have already said they oppose the legislation. All Democrats will vote against it. “No” votes from three of the 52 GOP senators would kill the party’s effort to deliver on its perennial vow to repeal “Obamacare” and would reprise the party’s politically jarring failure to accomplish that this summer.
Collins cited the bill’s cuts in the Medicaid program for low-income people and the likelihood that it would result in many losing health coverage and paying higher premiums. The Maine moderate also criticized a provision letting states make it…