The Senate voted mostly along party lines in support of the motion to proceed to debate a replacement for the Affordable Care Act. Republican Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine were the only 2 Republicans who voted against the motion.
Additional reporting by Mary Caffrey
The Senate voted mostly along party lines in support of the motion to proceed to debate a replacement for the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Republican Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine were the only 2 Republicans who voted against the motion. Vice President Mike Pence was in attendance to vote "yes" and break the tie as every Democrat voted against the motion to proceed.
Now senators will be able to freely offer amendments to the bill being considered, which is the House bill that was passed on May 4, known as the American Health Care Act.
Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), who had been one of the initial holdouts that lost Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell the votes necessary to vote on the Senate’s version of the healthcare bill, explained on Twitter why he changed his mind. He wrote that McConnell made it clear that Republicans needed 60 votes in order to pass the Senate bill, which the Senate parliamentarian had ruled could not be passed through budget reconciliation because of a few of the provisions, including prohibiting Medicaid funds to Planned Parenthood for 1 year and making people who dropped coverage wait 6 months before they could get new coverage.
If this is indeed the plan, I will vote to proceed and I will vote for any all measures that are clean repeal.
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) July 25, 2017
Senator Dean Heller of Nevada released a statement before the vote explaining why he voted in support of the motion to proceed despite his governor’s opposition to the Republican healthcare plans put forward so far.
"Obamacare isn’t the answer, but doing nothing to try to solve the problems it has created isn’t the answer either,” Heller said. “That is why I will vote to move forward and give us a chance to address the unworkable aspects of the law that have left many Nevadans—particularly those living in rural areas—with dwindling or no choices.”
However, he added that his ultimate vote regarding the bill is still up in the air. If he doesn’t feel like the bill the Senate comes up with is an improvement for the people living in Nevada, then he will vote against it.
Senator John McCain (R-Arizona), who recently had surgery and was diagnosed with a glioblastoma, arrived on the Senate floor to a standing ovation to cast a “yes” vote, followed by the last remaining Republican to vote, Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin. Johnson's vote was unclear until the last minute as he was talking on the floor with McConnell and Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, and it was noted on Twitter. From a Bloomberg reporter:
Ron Johnson, who has not voted, having intense discussion with McConnell and Cornyn
— Steven Dennis (@StevenTDennis) July 25, 2017
However, after McCain voted for the motion, he took to the floor to express his displeasure with the process through which the Senate leadership had drafted its healthcare bill, and declared he would not vote to pass the Republican health bill as it currently stands. In addition, he promoted the idea that the 2 parties work together on healthcare reform.
"We're not getting done much apart," McCain said.
Now the senators will debate what is in the health bill.
President Donald Trump watched the Senate vote at the White House with Lebanon Prime Minister Saad Hariri, where the pair then appeared at a press conference to discuss challenges with terrorism in the Middle East. Trump told the press corps, “We stood and watched the results on television before we came out.”
Asked if Republicans should move on to tax reform if they cannot get the votes for a healthcare bill, Trump said, “I’m extremely happy we got this vote.” He said that “historically, they say this is the tough vote to get.”
In the coming weeks, Trump promised there would be “really, really wonderful” proposals offered.
“Obamacare is failing. It’s failing on every front,” the president said, calling the ACA “a lie.”