The national spotlight is trained on House Republicans’ furious efforts to pass a healthcare bill this week, but the measure faces an even more difficult path in the Senate, where just three GOP senators could sink it.
As it stands, there are eight senators who have expressed serious reservations about the revised House bill aimed at repealing and replacing Obamacare – more than enough to torpedo its passage in the closely divided, 52-48 GOP majority Senate.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the Senate is plowing ahead with a vote on the measure next week if it passes, as planned, in the House by Friday.
“We are not slowing down,” McConnell told reporters after a closed-door meeting with the Senate GOP Tuesday. “We are going forward.”
Despite the public confidence, McConnell is facing a difficult balancing act. He has repeatedly told fellow senators they have the ability to amend the Senate version of the bill when it comes to a vote on the floor. But if GOP centrists go too far in winning changes they want, the measure will lose essential conservative votes.
A trio of conservative Republicans have said they oppose the measure – Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Mike Lee of Utah, and Rand Paul of Kentucky. The senators have echoed the similar sentiments as those of the House Freedom Caucus, which has blasted the bill as “Obamacare-lite.”