Senate Republican leadership recently released its take on Obamacare reform, which, in addition to threatening the health insurance of millions of low income and elderly people, has caused Senate Republicans on both sides of the aisle to express doubt and concern over whether they could support the bill in its current state.
Mitch McConnell can only afford to lose 2 Republican votes to get this bill passed, assuming none of the Democrats or left-leaning independents support the bill, which is very likely at this point. Right now, the Senate’s healthcare bill is has drawn criticism from guys like Rand Paul and Ted Cruz for not being conservative enough, as well as criticism from moderate Republicans like Susan Collins for being too austere.
While it’s possible that these initial remarks of disapproval are tenable and only to influence whatever amendments get made to the bill, many of these Senators are facing reelection soon and, whatever side their voters are on, you can bet their voters have strong opinions about Obamacare and what direction the government should go regarding its repeal. Democrats have a significant edge on the generic ballot, so a vote on this bill could go a long way in helping or hindering a campaign.
Based on early reports, it looks like there is more criticism coming from the conservative wing of the Senate. That, in addition to the President’s own conservative feelings about healthcare, lead me to believe that the final iteration of this bill is going to be more conservative, more cost-cutting, and more rich-friendly than what we’re seeing now. In doing this, McConnell would be essentially conceding that Senators Collins (R-ME) and Heller (R-NV) won’t be able to support the bill because they probably have the most liberal support bases and have been the main opponents from the party’s moderate wing. If they probably wouldn’t support it now, they won’t support it if McConnell drags it in the total wrong direction.
Every other Republican will then be dared to be the one guy (or gal) that trampled on nearly a decade of anti-Obamacare campaign promises. Trump has so much personally riding on this bill as a sign he can “get things done” and not “golf every day” that GOP senators who oppose it might actually risk being aggressively chewed out by the President, not to mention named publicly as a traitor to the party and tweeted about negatively. It’ll be a tough pill to swallow, but it might not be enough to get senators to support a wildly unpopular bill with an election on the horizon.