Cornyn Confident as Senate Heads Toward Long-delayed Health Care Vote

WASHINGTON -- After months of embarrassing setbacks, Texas Sen. John Cornyn is optimistic his party has the votes it needs to clear a key procedural hurdle Tuesday in its embattled quest to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.“I’ve been talking to a number of senators who previously expressed some skepticism and I believe we will get there,” Cornyn, the majority whip, told Texas reporters in a weekly call on Tuesday. He credited Arizona Sen. John McCain, who was recently diagnosed with brain cancer, for returning to Capitol Hill for the long-awaited vote. “Certainly Sen. McCain’s return will be an inspiration for all of us to step up and do our duty as he always seems to do,” he said. Support for the measure -- which would prompt 20 hours of debate and open the floodgates on a flurry of health care amendments -- was uncertain headed into Tuesday as a handful of lawmakers expressed unease with beginning debate on a bill they didn’t fully understand or approve. The GOP holds a narrow 52-48 seat majority and can only afford to lose two Republican senators, as Democrats will no doubt line up against it. Maine Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican from a rural state who says the GOP’s proposed Medicaid reductions would harm her constituents, is widely expected to vote against the procedural step.But by Tuesday morning, as President Donald Trump continued applying heat to naysaying members, at least one other expected no vote flipped: conservative Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.Paul, who has blasted the Senate GOP’s Better Care Reconciliation Act for not doing enough to undo the ACA and instead favors a straight repeal bill, instead of a simultaneous repeal-and-replace, tweeted on Tuesday that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told him the party would take up his 2015 repeal measure during the debate.“If that is the plan, I will vote to proceed to have this vote. I also now believe we will be able to defeat the new spending and bailouts,” he wrote.  Continue reading...

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