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The White House said 'we're very focused on repealing and replacing' Obamacare


Updated July 26, 2017 03:14 PM EDT

Incoming White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Wednesday said that the Trump administration will keep the pressure on Congress to repeal and replace Obamacare.

"We're very focused on repealing and replacing," she said at a White House press briefing. "We are going to continue pushing forward until we get a new and better healthcare plan."

Sanders's remarks come one day after the Senate voted to start debate on repealing Obamacare, which will likely include discussion of how to scrap the controversial healthcare law and whether or not it should be replaced.

Updated July 25, 2017 04:04 PM EDT

Senators gathered on Capitol Hill after the health care vote.

Updated July 25, 2017 03:39 PM EDT

President Trump weighed in on the Senate's action during remarks in the Rose Garden alongside Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

"I want to thank Senator John McCain," he said. "Very brave man. He made a tough trip to get here and vote. So we want to thank Senator McCain and all of the Republicans."

"We passed it without one Democrat vote," Trump continued. "And that's a shame, but that's the way it is. And it's very unfortunate."

"But I want to congratulate the American people, because we're going to give you great healthcare. And we're going to get rid of Obamacare, which should have been, frankly, terminated long ago. It's been a disaster for the American people."

Updated July 25, 2017 03:00 PM EDT

Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday broke a tie in the Senate to begin debate on Obamacare repeal legislation.

Pence cast the deciding vote to make the final tally 51-50 to move forward on the process of debating how to repeal Obamacare.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) was on the Senate floor for the first time since his brain cancer diagnosis.

McCain earned a standing ovation from both sides of the aisle after returning to the Senate following surgery to remove a tumor from above his left eye earlier this month.

McCain cast the 49th vote in favor of starting the debate on Obamacare repeal. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) then cast the 50th vote to set up Pence's tie-breaking ballot.

McCain said he would not vote for the Senate GOP's bill to repeal Obamacare as is, calling it a "shell of bill" before urging bipartisan cooperation to improve it.

John McCain returns to the Senate floor after brain cancer diagnosis

Updated July 25, 2017 02:49 PM EDT

GOP Sens. Lisa Murkowski (AK) and Susan Collins (ME) have reportedly voted against starting debate on Obamacare repeal legislation.

If all other Republican senators vote yes, Vice President Mike Pence could then break a tie assuming all Democratic senators oppose the measure.

Updated July 25, 2017 02:41 PM EDT

Protesters on Tuesday chanted "kill the bill" ahead of the vote on whether to start the debate on Obamacare repeal legislation.

Protesters yell 'kill the bill, don't kill us' during health care vote

Updated July 25, 2017 02:36 PM EDT

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) on Tuesday announced she would vote in favor of the procedural motion to begin debate on Obamacare repeal legislation.

"Today, I will vote to begin debate to repeal and replace Obamacare," she said in a statement.

"As this process advances on the Senate floor, I will continue to make decisions are in the best interest of West Virginians," Capito added. "I remain committed to reforming our health care system while also addressing the concerns I have voiced for months."

"I will continue to push for policies that result in affordable health care coverage for West Virginians, including those who are in the Medicaid population and those struggling with drug addiction."

Updated July 25, 2017 02:27 PM EDT

Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) on Tuesday announced he will support a motion to begin debate on Obamacare.

"Obamacare isn't the answer, but doing nothing to try to solve the problems it has created isn't the answer either," he said in a statement.

"That is why I will vote to move forward and give us a chance to address the unworkable aspects of the law that have left many Nevadans - particularly those living in rural areas - with dwindling or no choices," Heller added.

"If the final product isn't improved for the state of Nevada, then I will not vote for it; if it is improved, I will support it."

Heller is the most vulnerable Senate Republican incumbent in 2018, and he said last month he would oppose a motion to proceed to the Senate version of healthcare reform due to the tens of millions of more people it would leave uninsured.

Updated July 25, 2017 02:20 PM EDT

GOP aides on Tuesday told The Hill that Senate Republicans are mulling a significantly scaled-down version of their Obamacare repeal bill to pass something and start negotiations with the House.

The so-called "skinny bill" is aimed at getting Republicans something they can agree on for moving on to a conference committee with the House.

Aides told The Hill that the measure would likely repeal Obamacare's individual and employer mandates and the medical device tax.

That would be a much less drastic overhaul that the most recent Senate replacement legislation, which also trimmed Obamacare's subsidies and cut Medicaid.

Updated July 25, 2017 12:34 PM EDT

Sen. Rand Paul said Tuesday he'll vote in favor of the motion to proceed to debate on the health care bill.

Paul tweeted about the vote earlier Tuesday.

Updated July 25, 2017 12:20 PM EDT

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), an opponent of the GOP-backed bill, said a repeal of the Affordable Care Act would result in drastic cuts to Medicaid and that millions in poor and rural areas would lose their health care.

"People with pre-existing conditions will be left high and dry," Schumer said.

"We all know the ruse that is going on," Schumer said. "It will either be full repeal without replace or something far close to that."

Schumer warned of the potential influence of the House Freedom Caucus.

"They know darn well whats going to happen when there is a conference," Schumer said. "The Freedom Caucus calls the shots."

Schumer also made note of President Trump's recent criticism of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

"In recent days President Trump has gone out of his way to undermine his attorney general," Schumer said. "He has chastised him publicly for recusing himself."

"It's clear that President Trump is trying to bully his own attorney general out of office," Schumer added.

Updated July 25, 2017 12:09 PM EDT

"In just a couple of hours senators will have an important decision to make," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor.

"This administration understands the pain middle-class families have felt under Obamacare," McConnell added.

McConnell reiterated that senators will have the opportunity to offer additional ideas if the vote passes on the Senate floor.

He said senators who oppose the bill will send a message that they are "just fine with Obamacare."

"Our constituents are hurting under Obamacare," McConnell said. "They are counting on us."

The Senate is set for a major procedural vote Tuesday on Republicans' latest effort to repeal and replace Obamacare. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will need 50 of the 52 Senate Republicans to vote in favor of the bill in order for it to advance. Here is what you need to know.

What are the implications?

If McConnell can't get the votes, Republicans will go right back to the drawing board and Obamacare will continue to be the main health care system as they renegotiate.

If the bill passes it will move on to be debated on the House floor. Republicans will continue to revise the bill behind closed doors to make sure it will pass in the House.

John McCain will cast a vote

Sen. John McCain's office announced that he will be in the Senate to vote Tuesday after being diagnosed with brain cancer on July 19.

McCain has not said whether he will support the bill on Tuesday. He said he would not support the revised health care bill in a press statement on July 13.

“The revised Senate health care bill released today does not include the measures I have been advocating for on behalf of the people of Arizona," McCain said. "That’s why if the Senate takes up this legislation, I intend to file amendments that would address the concerns raised by Arizona Governor Doug Ducey and other leaders across our state about the bill’s impact on Arizona’s Medicaid system."

Which Republicans might vote no?

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) opposed the GOP's previous attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare, saying the bill had serious flaws.

"There are many of us who have concerns about the bill, particularly the cuts in the Medicaid program," Collins said in a interview with ABC News. "If we are not able to reach a consensus, the Senate should return to regular order, hold hearings and receive input from senators of both parties, and produce a bill that finally provides Americans with access to affordable and quality health care.”

Sen. Jerry Moran and Sen. Mike Lee also released statements saying they could not support that version of the bill. Moran called the bill a "bad policy."

What about 'repeal only'?

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) said he will support repealing Obamacare but will not support replacing it with a bill that keeps certain Obamacare provisions.

"The previous Senate bill kept the majority of the Obamacare taxes and spending, and it had a $200 billion bailout for insurance companies,"Paul wrote in a USA Today op-ed. "The 2015 clean repeal is far better; it simply offers repeal and a two-year window to fix our broken system."

Others are more hesitant to repeal Obamacare without a replacement in place. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) has made clear that "repeal-only" is not a option for him.

"I don’t think it’s appropriate just to repeal, we’ve also got to put a replacement in place to help deal with the very issues I just talked about," Portman said in a statement.

Trump urged Republicans to 'step up to the plate'

President Trump said it's time for Republicans to "step up the the plate" Tuesday morning ahead of the vote. He said he has his "pen in hand."

The president has been adamant about replacing Obamacare and has referred to it as a "total disaster." He has warned the GOP of the "repercussions" of failing to repeal and replace Obamacare.

"For the last seven years, Republicans have been united in standing up for Obamacare's victims. Remember repeal and replace, repeal and replace, they kept saying it over and over again. Every Republican running for office promised immediate relief from this disastrous law," Trump said on Monday during a White House speech. "We, as a party, must fulfill that solemn promise to the voters of this country to repeal and replace.

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