By ROBERT PEAR
© 2017 New York Times News Service
WASHINGTON — Just when the effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act appeared to be dead, a last-ditch push to obliterate the law could be nearing a showdown vote in the Senate, and a handful of Republicans insist they are closing in on the votes.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has said he will not vote for the measure because it leaves too much of the Affordable Care Act in place.
And Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who cast the deciding vote that killed the repeal effort in July, expressed misgivings that the Senate would try again to pass a bill that had not been examined by committees with expertise — and with no Democratic support.
“Why did Obamacare fail? Obamacare was rammed through with Democrats’ votes only,” he said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday. “The way to do this is have a bill, put it through committee.”
Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Republicans who opposed previous repeal efforts, have not said where they stand. But the new bill holds the same provisions that they opposed this summer: deep cuts to Medicaid and a temporary elimination of federal funding to Planned Parenthood.
If the Senate does not vote by the end of next week, it will become nearly impossible to repeal the law because the drive to kill the Affordable Care Act will lose the procedural protections that allow it to pass the Senate with a simple majority, rather than the 60 votes that would otherwise be needed.
The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has told them he will find time for it on the Senate floor if they can muster 50 votes, which would ensure passage with Vice President Mike Pence on hand to break a tie.
McConnell is pressing the Congressional Budget Office for a quick analysis of the Graham-Cassidy bill.