Can the American Health Care Act Pass in the Senate?

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President Donald Trump signs three executive actions in the Oval Office on January 28, 2017. (Getty)

The House of Representatives has just passed the American Health Care Act. Now, the Senate must pass the bill, so what are the chances that this will happen?

It seems unlikely that the American Health Care Act will be able to pass in the Senate in its current form; the bill will likely need to undergo some changes in order to make it through the Senate and onto the president’s desk.

For the American Health Care Act to pass in the Senate, 51 votes are required. There are 52 Republicans in the Senate, and so assuming every Democrat votes against the bill as they are expected to, Republicans can’t afford to lose more than two votes.

More than two Republicans in the Senate have already voiced their opposition to the bill, though.

They include Senators Rob Portman, Shelley Moore Capito, Cory Gardner and Lisa Murkowskiwhi, who signed a joint letter when the bill was first introduced saying that it lacked key protections for those who benefit from Medicaid.

“While we support efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act and make structural reforms to the Medicaid program, we are concerned that the February 10th draft proposal from the House of Representatives does not provide stability and certainty for individuals and families in Medicaid expansion programs or the necessary flexibility for states,” they said in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

A few other Republican senators initially opposed the American Health Care Act, including Rand Paul, who complained in March that the bill was simply Obamacare lite. However, this was before the McArthur Amendment was added onto the bill, and this may be enough to get conservatives like Rand Paul back on board. The recent changes do not really address the concerns of Senators Portman, Moore Capito, Gardner, and Murkowskiwhi, however.

Another Republican Senator who has expressed opposition to the bill is Susan Collins, who told the Press Herald in March, “This is not a bill I could support in its current form. It really misses the mark.”

It’s not clear at this time when the Senate might vote on the American Health Care Act, but Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn told NBC News this week, “We’re not under any deadline, so we’re going to take our time.”

He also said, “I assume that we will be…in the same posture that the House was: When we have 51 Senators we’ll vote, but not before that”

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