With at least nine GOP Senators still opposed to the bill, having concerns that span the ideological spectrum, it’s unclear which aspects of the draft McConnell can change to get the 50 votes he needs for it to pass.
“That is an existential question,” Sen. Bill Cassidy told ABC News. “And it’s very hard for me to answer existential questions. Right now there’s still kind of, ‘can we do it?’ And I can’t answer that. I just can’t.”
Even the no votes, who would presumably be getting the most courting, don’t know what’s on the negotiating table.
Who wants what?
Still other moderates, like Collins, oppose the bill’s scrapping of federal funding for Planned Parenthood. Collins told reporters Tuesday that it will take fundamental changes, not just tweaks, to get her on board.
Conservatives, like Sen. Ted Cruz, on the other hand, want insurers to be able to opt out of covering essential health benefits, required under Obamacare, like maternity and mental health care. Cruz has an amendment, which he pitched again during an all-Republicans lunch meeting Wednesday, that would allow insurers to scrap those coverage requirements so long as there is one plan available in each state that is ACA-compliant.
“It expands options for consumers, it expands the freedom of consumers to purchase more affordable plans, and I would note that there are a host of other plans we have discussed,” Cruz explained.
New bill, new score
“The leader said he wants the talks to continue throughout the week. I'm sure we'll be having lots of back and forth with CBO in the coming weeks,” a spokesman for McConnell said.
If Senate Republicans can’t get something done this week, some members suggest it may be time for Plan B.
“You gotta do something sooner or later because people are losing access to insurance,” said Sen. David Perdue, who wasn't against or even citing concerns about the original Senate draft.
Even Rand Paul has suggested that leadership break the Republican bill into pieces, so moderates could work with Democrats on some areas, like market stabilization, and conservatives on others.
“I’ll vote for a more narrowly structured repeal bill – and the big-government items the moderates want, they can still get ‘em. They can put it in a bill that the Democrats love,” Paul said.