Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has announced that leadership plans to release a “discussion draft” of their version of the AHCA bill on Thursday June 22^nd^, with a vote to be held on a final bill one week later. The Congressional Budget Office is expected to release a report concerning the Senate bill early next week; although, Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch indicated that the Senate is not quite prepared to send the bill to the CBO.
Other Senators are not as optimistic about this timeline, even those who are members of the working group charged with drafting the bill. Senators Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and Rand Paul have all decried the drafting process for its lack of transparency, indicating that even they have been “kept in the dark” regarding key provisions of the bill. Senator Lee urged leadership to release the bill immediately if it realistically expects a vote next week.
Nonetheless, Senator McConnell has already invoked a rule that would fast-track the legislation and bypass the committee process – demonstrating leadership’s commitment to meeting its end-June objective. Democrats have attempted to stall the bill by invoking procedural rules and tactics that would slow Senate actions, including unrelated committee hearings.
With 52 Republicans currently in the Senate, the GOP can only afford to lose three votes – and Senator Paul has suggested that he would not rule out returning to the drawing board, given the current circumstances.
Conservatives like Lee, Paul, and Cruz are specifically troubled by the longer phase-out of the Medicaid expansion and the prospect of maintaining some of the taxes imposed by the ACA. Senator McConnell, according to some sources within the GOP, has not endorsed a provision allowing an “opt-out” of the Continuous Coverage Requirement – as was included in the House bill. He has also refused to endorse the idea of an “opt-in” approach relative to the regulatory provisions.
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