The unveiling of what Senate Republicans called a “discussion draft” bill to replace Obamacare set off a series of procedural steps that will culminate in a vote, according to Senate Republican staffers.
First, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office will analyze the bill’s budgetary impact and release a report on its real-world effects.
According to the CBO, the House version of the health bill would leave 23 million more people uninsured than under the current law. The CBO announced Thursday that it will release its score for the Senate measure early next week.
As senators await the score, they will continue to discuss the draft, with many of them wanting to make tweaks to it.
Once the score is released, the Senate parliamentarian will begin working with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, as well as Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, to determine whether the legislation complies with the rules of reconciliation, which would allow it to pass with a simple majority and avoid a filibuster.
At some point, McConnell will take the bill to the floor.
The bill’s arrival on the floor will open a 20-hour window for debate, equally divided between Democrats and Republicans. This can be used however members want, including offering amendments and making motions related to the bill.
When that time has expired, the Senate will go into a vote-a-rama, in which members may offer amendments with short or no debate. That may continue, one official said, “until a state of exhaustion sets in.”
The next step is for the Senate to decide to move to final passage and vote. By this time, McConnell will need to have rounded up at least 50 of his 52 Republicans to pass the bill.
Traditionally, when the two chambers pass different versions of a bill, they are reconciled in a conference committee. But in this case, the fate of the Senate bill outside its chamber is unknown.