Senate votes to begin debate on ObamaCare repeal

Senate votes to begin a debate on ObamaCare repeal legislation.

Ben Ariel ,

Capitol Hill
Capitol Hill

The Senate on Tuesday voted to begin a debate on ObamaCare repeal legislation, a major step toward the goal of ending the healthcare law.

The motion was approved in a razor-thin 50-50 vote, with Vice President Mike Pence breaking the tie, according to The Hill.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) received thunderous applause as he entered the chamber for the first time since being diagnosed with brain cancer to cast the 49th vote. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) cast the 50th vote for the bill.

The House of Representatives passed the replacement bill in May by the narrowest of margins, 217 to 213 in the 435-member body.

Last month, Senate Republicans delayed their effort to vote on the legislation after a number of members said they opposed the bill.

The procedural motion technically brings the Senate to the House’s ObamaCare repeal-and-replace legislation, and in a highly unusual situation, it is unclear what will happen next.

It is expected that the Senate will vote on a repeal-only measure, the latest version of the Senate replacement bill, and a significantly scaled-down measure known as a “skinny bill”, according to The Hill.

The Congressional Budget Office found that the latest version of the Senate’s replacement bill would cause 22 million more people to be uninsured over a decade. That bill would scale back ObamaCare subsidies to help people afford coverage and put a new cap on Medicaid spending, leading to billions of dollars in cuts to the program.

Republicans argue that ObamaCare is collapsing and therefore some action is necessary. Democrats counter that markets are stabilizing, but uncertainty from the Trump administration is destabilizing the situation.