Ted Cruz joins Republicans ranged against Graham-Cassidy healthcare bill

The effort to replace the ACA appears all but doomed as Cruz indicated Utah senator Mike Lee would follow him, while Maine senator Susan Collins told CNN it’s ‘very difficult’ for her to envision voting for the bill

Susan Collins. Photograph: Robert F. Bukaty/AP

The Trump administration’s latest efforts to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) appeared to be disintegrating over the weekend, as a growing number of Republican senators indicated they would vote against the so-called Graham-Cassidy bill.

Maine Republican Susan Collins looked all but certain to oppose the bill, while Texas senator Ted Cruz also warned on Sunday he would not vote for the legislation in its current form and said he believed Utah senator Mike Lee would follow his lead in opposing.

Republicans hold a slim 52-48 majority in the Senate, meaning they can only afford to lose two votes before the bill fails as all Democrats are expected to vote against. John McCain of Arizona and Rand Paul of Kentucky have already said they will oppose the bill, meaning one more Republican “no” will kill the legislation. Only a 50-50 tie can be broken by vice-president Mike Pence.

Collins, who voted against previous efforts to repeal the ACA, popularly known as Obamacare, told CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday it was “very difficult for me to envision a scenario where I would end up voting for this bill”.

The Maine senator said she was concerned the legislation would lead to “the erosion of protections for people pre-existing conditions” but was waiting for a final analysis from the Congressional Budget Office, which she expected on Monday, before making a definitive decision. She said: “I don’t know whether the CBO analysis will have new information that will change where I’m inclined to head.”

Highlighting the spectrum of Republican opposition, Cruz said later in the day he was opposed to the bill as it did not deregulate the system enough.

“Right now they don’t have my vote and I don’t think they have Mike Lee’s either,” he said, speaking at the Texas Tribune Festival in Austin. “I want to be a yes, I want to get there because I think that Obamacare is a disaster. But the price to getting there, I believe, is focusing on consumer freedom.”

Cruz said he and Lee had presented edits to the bill’s architects, South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, but they were taken out of the bill within a day.

Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, another who…

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