WASHINGTON — A potentially decisive group of four conservative senators quickly announced Thursday afternoon that they oppose the health care bill rolled out by Republican Senate leadership earlier in the day.
Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky., Mike Lee, R-Utah, Ted Cruz, R-Texas and Ron Johnson, R-Wis., said in a statement that the proposal did not go far enough in overhauling the current system.
“There are provisions in this draft that represent an improvement to our current health care, system but it does not appear that this draft as written will accomplish the most important promise that we made to the Americans: to repeal Obamacare and lower their health care costs,” the group said in the release.
With only 52 Republican senators, the bill would fail if those four members maintained their opposition. But the group indicated they would be open to a revised version of the bill. This means they may attempt to force concessions from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., before the bill is brought to a vote, potentially as soon as next week.
“We are open to negotiation and obtaining more information before it is brought to the floor,” the statement said.
Paul and Lee have been critical of the drafting process in recent days, saying it has lacked transparency and indicating that they were not entirely pleased with the final outcome.
Both Lee and Cruz were part of the 13-member group tasked with drafting the legislation.
“The American people need and deserve to be able to see legislation as it moves through the Senate,” Lee said in a video this week.
Paul has criticized party leadership for having “forgotten” their pledge to repeal Obamacare.
“I mean, we had thousands of people standing up and cheering us on, saying they were going to repeal [Obamacare],” Paul told Bloomberg on Wednesday. “And now they’ve gotten kind of weak-kneed and I think they want to keep it.”