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Where Things Stand: Watch Out for McConnell’s Bait-and-Switch on the Senate Repeal Bill

By Patrick Willard,


Here’s where things stand on Republicans’ reckless quest to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

It’s been a dramatic 24 hours and we’re all bleary-eyed today after tracking the Senate’s activity last night. What’s important to remember is that the flurry of activity over the next 48 hours is a mere sideshow. The real action is the behind-the-scenes lobbying Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is doing to rally Republicans around the likely so-called “skinny” repeal which would result in a horrible final bill that would be written in secret.

This is why it’s important that we keep up the pressure on senators over the next two days to vote against this final bill. Our state partners and consumers all over the country are making calls, tweeting at their senators, and showing up at rallies, meetings, sit-ins and vigils in order to share their stories and make their voices heard against these deplorable repeal efforts.

What happened last night

Last night, following the procedural vote to begin debate on legislation repealing the Affordable Care Act, the Senate voted on and failed to pass the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA). Thanks to nine senators — Susan Collins (Maine), Tom Cotton (Ark.), Bob Corker (Tenn.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Dean Heller (Nev.), Mike Lee (Utah), Jerry Moran (Kan.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Rand Paul (Ky.) – this legislation, which the CBO confirmed would be devastating to America’s health care, has failed.

While encouraging that we got nine votes against this awful bill, this vote was a blip in what will be a long week. We shouldn’t lose sight of what’s to come: The likely vote on McConnell’s repeal bill on Thursday or Friday should be our focus.

The repeal-only bill will go down today

This morning, the Senate is voting on the straight repeal substitute, which is expected to fail because so many senators oppose repealing the health law without a replacement. 4:15 UPDATE: The Senate voted down the repeal bill offered as an amendment. New York Times vote tracker.

Following this vote, expect several more amendments and a “vote-a-rama”. The vote-a-rama could go late Thursday night into Friday if Democrats want to keep offering amendments.

Watch for a bait-and-switch on a repeal bill to offered as an amendment on Thursday or Friday

McConnell’s final amendment in this process is likely to be a short bill—so-called “skinny” repeal or “lowest common denominator”—that cobbles together, like Frankenstein, parts of previous bills that include a repeal of the individual and employer mandates and the medical device tax. The thinking is this Frankenstein bill is the only way to keep repeal alive, as it has a chance of garnering the 50 votes needed to pass.

If the Senate passes the Frankenstein bill, watch for a bait-and-switch during the subsequent conference. Republicans could swap out the Frankenstein bill to craft a full repeal and replace bill in a conference committee and then bring it back to the Senate with fast-track protections, including only 10 hours of debate and no amendments.

This bill would likely be worse than any bill we’ve seen so far.

What senators need to hear

Your Republican senators need to hear from you that you want them to oppose the Frankenstein repeal bill and any bill that kicks millions off of coverage and cuts Medicaid.

If you want to make your voice heard today, go to the Protect Our Care page, find an event or use one of our graphics to tweet at Senate moderates. From the Chamber yesterday we heard chants and stories from the real lives impacted by repeal of the Affordable Care Act and turning the clock back on Medicaid, our social safety net. Join us in making sure that by the end of this week we all continue to have access to affordable health coverage.