Senate GOP pushing for health care vote next Thursday

Posted at 2:39 PM, Jun 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-20 14:39:54-04

Senate Republican leaders are pushing for a vote on a yet-to-be-unveiled health care bill next week before lawmakers leave town for the July 4 recess — likely by Thursday, June 29.

In a political exercise that is coming down to the wire, Republican leaders hope to send final legislation to the Congressional Budget Office by Wednesday or Thursday — with the aim of getting back a CBO score some time next week, according to senior GOP sources.

Republican senators say they expect to see the bill by the end of this week.

“The plan … is to release the bill on Thursday and legislative text, and my sense is that that’s the track we’re on,” said Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee.

If all goes according to plan, the release of the CBO report would then allow for a Senate vote by next Thursday.

But a vote next week remains aspirational for now and the plan has hardly been finalized. As of Tuesday morning, key rank-and-file Senate Republicans have still not gotten official word on the timing of a vote.

Asked whether leadership has offered any guidance on when the health care vote would take place, three separate aides said in emails to CNN: “No,” “Nothing yet,” and “Nothing definitive.”

Sen. Richard Burr, R-North Carolina, asked if there will be a vote next week said, “I believe the majority leader when he says there’s going to be one.”

Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch said Republicans are close, but not quite ready, to send a bill to the CBO.

“We’ve been working on it for a long time. We’re just not there yet,” the Utah Republican said, adding he is confident the Senate could vote next week.

Tuesday afternoon will be a critical moment for the fate of the Senate health care bill.

GOP senators will meet behind closed doors and are poised to get their most thorough and definitive briefing yet on what will be in the final proposal.

The fact that Senate Republicans have yet to see text the week before leaders hope to have a vote has become a source of tension for Republicans and Democrats.

Republicans senators have openly grumbled about the lack of information that has come from leaders, while Democrats are crying foul and labeling the Senate proposal a “secretive” bill.

But Hatch insisted the GOP senators are in the loop. Under the Senate rules, Republicans need only 51 votes to pass the bill, and don’t need to face a Democratic filibuster — and a 60-vote threshold — that would kill it.

“We’ve been chanting about the various aspects of the legislation. We’re not leaving anybody out in the cold,” Hatch said. “It’s a tough job to get these things done and sometimes they’re very complex and very lengthy.”