New Senate Obamacare ‘repeal’ bill gains momentum, but Rand Paul fiercely opposes it

With a deadline at the end of September fast approaching, there’s a move to repeal Obamacare again and I use the word ‘repeal’ loosely. But nevertheless reports are that the bill is gaining momentum in the Senate:

THE HILL – A last-ditch effort by Senate Republicans to repeal-and-replace ObamaCare is gaining steam, suggesting lawmakers could face another vote on ending the former president’s signature law later this month.

Supporters do not appear to have the 50 votes necessary to pass the bill yet, but pressure is growing on Republicans to back the measure, which could replace much of ObamaCare with block grants that would be delivered to states.

In a crucial boost for its chances on Monday, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) offered his support.

“Congress has 12 days to say ‘yes’ to Graham-Cassidy,” he said. “It’s time for them to get the job done.”

Ducey’s support is important because Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a key swing vote, has said that Ducey’s position would be an important factor in how he votes.

Senate leadership is said to be taking the repeal bill seriously:

Senate GOP leadership is also engaged. A source who has spoken to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) office described him as “taking it very seriously.”

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) last week said he is conducting a whip count to gauge the level of support for the bill, though he did not say he would be pushing for it.

Here’s why the push is so urgent right now:

A key factor that is giving the measure new momentum is a fast-approaching Sept. 30 deadline.

At the end of the month, Republicans will not be able to use rules known as “budget reconciliation” to bypass a Democratic filibuster in the Senate.

If the measure can be filibustered, it has no chances of passing the Senate. As a result, Republicans are feeling pressure to move quickly to enact change they have long promised, but been unable to deliver even with their party’s control of Congress and the White House.

And here’s the lowdown on the holdouts:

The last-ditch effort’s main sponsors are Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). It is expected to have the backing of most Republican senators, but there are some key holdouts.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has been tweeting his opposition to the bill, saying it keeps too much of ObamaCare.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) has also said she has concerns, and is expected to be a no vote.

McCain has not endorsed the bill, though the fact this his close friend Graham is a co-sponsor has many observers thinking that he could be brought on board.

If McCain backs the bill and Paul maintains his opposition, that could leave Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) as the deciding vote.

Murkowski voted against all of the versions of a repeal bill in July, and has called for a bipartisan process. But she has stayed silent on Graham-Cassidy so far, not yet ruling it out.

Here’s what Paul had to say about it on Twitter:

That’s from today. Here’s his tweet from a few days ago:

Paul is pretty adamant that no conservative should be voting for it. With the pressure on to get something done on Obamacare, it wouldn’t surprise me if some weaker conservatives buckle.

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