U.S.

The Senate Health Care Bill Will Fail, for Now, but ‘Trumpcare’ May Still Take Shape

The Republican health care bill, as constructed when it was unveiled to the public and lawmakers on Thursday, doesn’t have enough votes to pass the Senate. But that might not last.

Four GOP senators—Rand Paul, from Kentucky, Ted Cruz, from Texas, Ron Johnson, from Wisconsin, and Mike Lee, from Utah—announced they wouldn’t support the legislation as written. Republicans hold 52 of the 100 seats in the Senate, meaning they can only afford to lose two votes to pass the bill. (In the case of a 50-50 split, the decision would be left to Vice President Mike Pence.) But the four lawmakers made it very clear they were open to negotiating changes to the bill aimed at replacing the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare. 

“Currently, for a variety of reasons, we are not ready to vote for this bill, but we are open to negotiation and obtaining more information before it is brought to the floor,” they said in a statement. “There are provisions in this draft that represent an improvement to our current health care system, but it does not appear this draft as written will accomplish the most important promise that we made to Americans: to repeal Obamacare and lower their health care costs.”

Speaking in Washington, Paul said the bill “needs to look more like repeal and less like we’re keeping Obamacare,” while expressing concern that Obamacare subsidies “will remain in place and may well exceed what is in the current Obamacare.”

While the senators might have stalled the bill crafted by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, that could prove temporary.

“One of the reasons for us putting our statement forward is, now that it is known that there are not 50 votes for this, I hope that those who are writing the bill, who have written the bill, will negotiate,” Paul said.

CNN reported that other Republicans senators have expressed doubts about the bill but have yet to come out against it. It’s expected the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) will soon release a score on the bill, detailing its forecast impact. CNN said that report would likely come on Monday or Tuesday of next week. The CBO found the House’s health care bill would lead to 23 million more Americans being uninsured by 2026 than under the current law.

A vote on the bill could take place in just one week, giving lawmakers little time to negotiate and amend the legislation. Democrats in the Senate, perhaps predictably, have railed against the bill.

“The president said the Senate bill needed heart. The way this bill cuts health care is heartless,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said on the Senate floor. “The Senate Republican health care bill is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, only this wolf has even sharper teeth that the House bill.”

Newsweek’s Emily Cadei contributed to this article with reporting in Washington, D.C.