Senate Republican leaders are praying that their fragile whip count holds over the weekend, as just one more “no” vote would doom the party’s Obamacare repeal effort from even coming up for debate.
Two GOP senators, Susan Collins of Maine and Rand Paul of Kentucky, said Thursday afternoon they will oppose a procedural vote next week to bring the bill to the floor. GOP leaders are putting immense pressure on about half a dozen other Republican senators not to join them and topple the entire effort. Another “no” is enough to kill the bill, and would also likely lead to mass defections.
The Trump administration is also lobbying intensely for the bill, the latest version of which was released Thursday. Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma spent Thursday trying to convince centrist senators to reconsider their opposition to prior drafts of the bill. Republicans are also hoping Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) can convince Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) to back the measure after Lee said it was “unclear” if this version is better than the last.
Majority Whip John Cornyn acknowledged GOP leaders don’t have the minimum 50 votes right now but insisted, “We’re making good progress.” He said he and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell were not making “state-specific” promises to wavering senators and were instead merely trying to convince them that the bill is better than Obamacare.