The Health 202: McConnell places all his chips on health care gambit – Washington Post


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is charging onward in his quest to pass a health-care bill reshaping Obamacare, announcing yesterday that a draft will be ready on Thursday for a potential vote next week. From his perspective, a vote can’t happen fast enough.

Lobbyists and aides say the majority leader wants to move health care off his plate as quickly as possible. McConnell (R-Ky.) appears to believe the issue could be a political sinkhole, which could bury his chances of retaining the Senate majority next year. The House version is deeply unpopular, and there’s little indication the Senate bill will be much more palatable to voters. McConnell feels strongly that Republicans must pass some kind of rollback after promising for seven years to do so, but he wants it done and out of the way — fast. And the majority leader is deeply aware there’s a strong possibility the whole effort might lose steam if his members return to their home states for the Fourth of July recess without finishing their work on health care before then.

Staff is now putting the finishing touches on a draft bill as the GOP leadership tries behind closed doors to bring Republicans on board with it. Leaders have planned a big meeting Thursday morning to start whipping members, per Politico.

But Republicans are hardly out of the danger zone. It remains unclear exactly how McConnell will get about five to seven holdout senators to sign off on the forthcoming measure (Politico also has a useful list of senators most likely to oppose the bill and why). Some key members, including Finance Committee Chairman Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), don’t appear at all certain they’re nearing a resolution. “Didn’t seem like it to me,” Hatch told my colleagues Sean Sullivan, Juliet Eilperin and Kelsey Snell yesterday.

McConnell’s can’t-attack-what-you-can’t-see approach of not holding committee hearings is deeply irking a growing chorus of members as even some Republicans join Democrats in criticizing the majority leader’s methods. “The secretive effort has alarmed Senate Democrats and even some Republicans,” Sean, Kelsey and Juliet write. “Some Republicans said they were confused about the bill taking shape, voicing frustration about the lack of transparency or warning against rushing.”

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