WASHINGTON U.S. Senate leaders on Thursday unveiled a draft of legislation to replace Obamacare, proposing to kill a tax on the wealthy that pays for it and reduce aid to the poor to cut costs.
The draft bill’s fate was immediately thrown into question, however, by a statement from Senator Rand Paul and three other conservative Republicans, who said they were “not ready to vote” for it. Democrats need the support of only three Republicans to quash the measure in the Republican-led chamber.
The emergence of four Senate skeptics underscored the difficulty for Republicans of steering the legislation down a narrow path to passage. Democrats already deeply oppose Republican attempts to overhaul former President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law.
The 142-page proposal, worked out in secret by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell with other Republican leaders, was welcomed by President Donald Trump. Despite celebrating its passage at the time, the president later privately bashed as “mean” a version approved last month in the Republican-led House of Representatives, according to congressional sources.
Trump, who said on Wednesday he wanted a health plan “with heart,” told reporters at the White House that healthcare legislation would require “a little negotiation, but it’s going to be very good.” He said he doubted Democrats would help.
Reaction to the proposal ranged from lukewarm to outright derision.
Republican Senator John McCain said he would check with his constituents in his home state of Arizona.
“I expect there’s going to be a number of changes between now and the final vote,” said Senator John Barrasso.
Obamacare, formally known as the Affordable Care Act, is credited with expanding health insurance to millions of Americans since its passage in 2010. Republicans say it costs too much and involves the federal government too much in healthcare. Trump made Obamacare repeal a…