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The GOP's repeal-and-replace plan got shot down. Now what?


Updated July 26, 2017 01:32 PM EDT

Debate continued on the Senate floor Wednesday on Republicans' efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) argued that Obamacare was "predicated on force and coercion."

Sen. Rand Paul said Obamacare was "predicated on force and coercion."

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) referred to the "skinny repeal" of Obamacare as a "ruse."

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called the "skinny repeal" of Obamacare a ruse.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) called Tuesday's vote to proceed to debate "irresponsible," "reckless," "cruel" and "immoral."

Sen. Elizabeth Warren called the health care vote "irresponsible... reckless... cruel... immoral."

Updated July 26, 2017 10:55 AM EDT

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said on the Senate floor Wednesday that "the difference between House Republicans and Senate Republicans are virtually irreconcilable."

"The Republican leader in the Senate passing the potato to the House, the Republican leader of the House passing the potato back to the Senate, because neither one wants to be responsible for what is inevitable, the demise of Trumpcare," Schumer said.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said "we are determined to do everything we can to succeed, we know our constituents are counting on us."

McConnell said he knows "members of both parties have health care ideas they liked to offer" and encouraged members that have an idea to "bring it to the floor."

Updated July 26, 2017 07:13 AM EDT

The repeal-and-replace plan Senate Republican leadership had been crafting since May failed to get enough votes for approval late Tuesday.

Nine of the 52 Republican senators voted against the plan.

Senate debate will continue on Wednesday. Scores of proposed amendments are expected in the coming days.

Senate Republicans will return to Capitol Hill on Wednesday likely feeling relieved after taking a big step forward on the road to repeal and replace Obamacare, a campaign promise many conservatives ran on for years.

GOP Senators finally managing to get enough votes to bring the repeal bill that passed in the House to the floor for debate.

The motion to proceed passed Tuesday 51-50, with two Republicans voting "no" and Vice President Mike Pence casting the tie-breaking vote, to proceed to debate on the bill.

"This was a critical first step," said Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). "Without this we could not have moved on to honoring our promise to repeal Obamacare."

Now GOP Senators say its go time, but what happens next is unclear and it could make or break the bill.

Many Republicans are hopeful that they will be able to fully repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, but say they may have to start off with just repeal.

"We're trying to get to a full replacement," said Sen. David Perdue (R-GA). "We're going to have a couple of procedural votes, move to a repeal and then start working on how to fix this."

Cruz says the focus now will be to bring Republicans together on a policy that will make health care more affordable for everyone.

"If we focus on lowering premiums, that's how we bring the conference together, that's how we honor our conference," he said.

Cruz touted his own amendments to the health care bill, which some studies suggest would increase premiums and lead to more Americans losing their insurance.


But, he said his vote for the motion to proceed doesn't necessarily mean he's going to vote "yes" on the final bill.

"I think we will have debates over the coming days to see what is finally produced but at the end of the day we are going to see I hope a repeal of the disaster that is Obamacare that’s causing millions of Americans to hurt," he said.

Sen. John McCain called for bipartisanship to solve the health care crisis in a rousing speech on the Senate floor. McCain returned from his home state after being diagnosed with brain cancer to cast his vote on the motion.

Despite McCain's call, Democrats say they are skeptical that their Republican colleagues will truly be able to reach across the aisle.

"It's kind of a sham since we really don't know what we're voting on," said Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA). "What we hear is they're going to try to put something together that will be kind of a little bit of a Trojan horse, but we'll see."

McCain called on GOP leaders to take the bill to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee for open hearings and debate.

"Why would you not let your health committee work on a healthcare bill? So I hope we get to the point where we can do that because I've got some ideas," Kaine said.

Speaking at a protest on the steps of the Capitol after the vote, Senate Democrats said they plan to fight harder than ever to kill the health care bill.

"[Republicans] lit a fuse today. Our job is to put out the fire before they blow up the health care system," said Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland).

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