The U.S. Senate is expected to vote on Obamacare repeal today. So what exactly is the Senate voting on, and when are they going to do so?
According to CNN, the health care vote is expected to take place at around 2:15 p.m. Eastern Time this afternoon. The schedule is always subject to change, however, but that seems to be the current goal.
Today’s vote is not actually to repeal and replace Obamacare. Rather, it’s a procedural vote, a.k.a. a motion to proceed. If the vote is successful, it’s at this point that the Senate can begin debating Obamacare repeal.
The Senate is voting on whether to take up the House of Representatives’ Obamacare replacement bill, the American Health Care Act. That bill is not expected to pass in the Senate verbatim, but today’s procedural vote would allow the Senate to begin debating and revising the health care bill, offering up amendments to it.
The idea was for the Senate to come to an agreement about how amend the House bill before this procedural vote took place. But the Senate struggled to find consensus on this, and so now the procedural vote is happening today without Republicans having a clearly agreed upon amendment process.
In order to proceed, 50 Republicans must vote in favor today; there are only 52 Republicans in the Senate, and so the party can’t afford to lose more than two senators. This is why John McCain, who has been absent from the Senate after being diagnosed with brain cancer, is coming to Capitol Hill for today’s vote.
If the vote is successful, all that means is that the Senate can continue in the Obamacare repeal process; it doesn’t necessarily mean that Obamacare repeal will definitely happen. But if the vote today fails, that has much more significant implications, and it would be the most major setback Republicans have faced while trying to replace the Affordable Care Act.
This morning, President Trump tweeted that today is a big day for health care and that it’s time for Republicans to step up.