The Senate is going through the mandated 20 hours of debate and vote-a-rama. What should we expect?
This revised iteration of BCRA — which included an amendment by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) to allow non-Obamacare plans back on the market paired with $100 billion in funding to partially offset the Medicaid cuts — was subject, because of the Senate budget rules, to a 60-vote threshold for a procedural vote. It failed handily, 43 to 57, with nine Republicans and all of the Democrats opposing it.
Next up: a vote on clean repeal of Obamacare’s spending and health insurance coverage expansion with no replacement, which is scheduled for midday Wednesday. That bill is also expected to fail.
Neither result would be a surprise. Health care lobbyists and Senate aides believe the most likely destination is a skinny Obamacare repeal bill that undoes the individual mandate, the employer mandate and a few of the law’s taxes.
Vote-a-rama is a series of amendments that have to be germane to the bill. There will be 2 minutes of debate and roughly 10 minutes of voting on each amendment. Those can go on for a long time. Some Democratic Senators have already indicated that they have 100 or more amendments ready to file. Very few, if any, of these amendments are expected to pass but they are designed to highlight the differences between the parties and put Republicans in awkward positions.
And then after that, the Senate votes. Assuming there are 50 plus the Vice President, either the House accepts the Senate bill as is or they go to conference. And at that point, health policy wonks will figure out exactly what just passed as the Senate won’t know what they did.