GOP struggles for healthcare votes
UNITED STATES: The top US Senate Republican struggled yesterday to salvage major healthcare legislation sought by President Donald Trump, meeting privately with a parade of skeptical senators as critics within the party urged substantial changes.
Republican leaders hope to agree on changes to the legislation by Friday, local time, so lawmakers can take it up after next week’s Independence Day recess. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday abandoned plans to seek passage of it this week because Republicans did not have 50 votes to pass the bill.
For seven years, Republicans have led a quest to undo the 2010 law known as Obamacare, Democratic former President Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement. Trump made dismantling it a top campaign promise during last year’s presidential campaign but policy differences within the party have raised doubts Republicans can achieve a repeal.
Democrats have unified against the bill and Republicans control the Senate by a slim 52-48 margin, which means McConnell can afford to lose only two Republicans. So far at least 10 - including moderates and hard-line conservatives - have expressed opposition to the current bill, although some indicated they would vote for it with certain changes.
McConnell, with his reputation as a strategist on the line, met with a procession of Republican senators in his office yesterday. John Cornyn, the No. 2 Senate Republican, said party leaders will talk to every Republican senator who has concerns about the bill or is undecided.
The House of Representatives passed its healthcare bill last month, only after striking a balance between the centre of the party and the right wing. Now McConnell must find a similar sweet spot.
Trump said the bill was moving along well and predicted a ‘‘great, great surprise’’ but did not elaborate.
Maine Senator Susan Collins, a moderate, said it would be ‘‘very difficult’’ to reach agreement by Friday. Collins and other centrists were put off by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office’s projection on Monday that 22 million people would lose medical insurance under the existing bill.
Finishing the legislation’s revisions by Friday would be ‘‘optimal,’’ Cornyn said, so the CBO can analyse the new version. .
Even then, Democrats could mount a forceful resistance. They have repeatedly said they will not discuss a repeal but have expressed openness to negotiating improvements. - Reuters
A woman impersonating Ivanka Trump stands next to a puppet of US President Donald Trump during a protest outside Trump International Hotel.