The Senate voted to debate on the bill. What happens next?
When the Senate opened a bill for debate last night, it was not the Better Care Reconciliation Act but rather the health bill that the House passed back in May: the American Health Care Act. Even so, this is a mere technicality to what’s about to take place on the Senate floor. Essentially, the bill is a vehicle for senators from both aisles to propose their own amendments. In turn, these amendments will be debated and voted on. Mitch McConnell hopes that this process will ultimately result in a comprehensive bill by the end of the week.
So far, the Senate has voted on the Better Care Reconciliation Act with the inclusion of the provision that Ted Cruz proposed, as well as the $100 billion that was added in the revised BCRA to help lower premiums and reduce out-of-pocket-pay. Ted Cruz’s amendment was already largely unpopular with both parties due to its supposed effects on the older or sicker population, and due to the fact that it had not been scored by the nonpartisan CBO, an old rule in the Senate dictated that the bill would need at least sixty votes to pass.
It received forty-three. The bill was scrapped.
Today, senators are set to consider a repeal-but-not-replace plan, which would effectively repeal Obamacare after a two-year delay in which senators would hopefully implement a replace plan. The amendment is not expected to pass due to concern that millions more people would become uninsured during the period between “repeal” and “replace”.
Later this week, which means after a mandatory twenty hours of debate, the true politics will begin in what is known as a “vote-a-rama”. Senators will spend extensive time proposing and voting on amendments. McConnell will then substitute the final product of this exercise with the House bill, and voting on the final bill will begin.