Rand Paul: Mitch McConnell doesn’t have the votes to pass GOP health care bill

On Sunday, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) told Fox News host Chris Wallace that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) does not have the votes to pass the troubled GOP Obamacare replacement bill, and reaffirmed that he will not be voting for it.

“I don’t think he does,” Paul said when asked if McConnell has the votes. “We won four elections on repealing Obamacare, but this bill keeps most of the Obamacare taxes, keeps most of the regulations, keeps most of the subsidies, and creates something that Republicans have never been for: a giant insurance bailout super-fund.”

“That is not a Republican idea, to give taxpayer money to a private industry that already makes $15 billion in profit,” Paul added.

The funding Paul is referring to is a $200 billion fund meant to keep the market stabilized when premiums inevitably rise. In an op-ed last Wednesday, Paul lambasted the GOP and the GOP bill for containing this measure, saying it will hasten what Paul calls the “Obamacare Death Spiral.”

“The Republican plan doesn’t fix the death spiral of Obamacare, it merely subsidizes it,” Paul told Wallace.

Paul has been against the GOP health care bill from its initial introduction, along with three other Republican senators: Mike Lee (R-Utah), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), and Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

McConnell began to add various things to the bill to make it more attractive to GOP senators. The Kentucky senator included the Cruz amendment, last week, which would allow the sale of cheap, deregulated insurance plans as long as Obamacare-compliant plans are still sold, in an attempt to attract both Cruz and Lee into voting “yes” on the bill.

According to The Washington Post, Cruz has switched his vote to yes. Lee has not clarified whether or not he will swap his vote, and remains undecided.

According to the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Johnson was strongly in favor of a procedural motion to get the bill to the Senate floor, but after alleged comments made by McConnell about Medicaid reforms never taking effect, Johnson is now undecided on how he’ll vote.

In late June, GOP leadership added $45 billion in funding for states fighting the opioid crisis, in an attempt to win over wayward Republican Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.). Neither senator expressed desire to vote for the bill regardless, stating their state’s Medicaid cuts were the larger issue.

A handful of other Republicans have stated their reluctance to support the bill. This includes moderates such as Dean Heller (R-Nev.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and conservatives such as Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) who are currently expressing doubts about voting “yes” on the bill.

According to The Washington Post, 11 senators have expressed their doubts about the bill. Only Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) has joined Paul in stark opposition to the bill.

McConnell needs 50 votes to pass the bill, with Vice President Mike Pence waiting to vote as a tie breaker. So the absence of three Republicans from a yes vote will stop the bill from passing. With Paul and Collins firmly stating they will reject the bill in its current form, only one more Republican would be needed to kill the bill.

However, Paul said he believes Republicans can still get together and pass a narrower bill, leaving the subsidies for a later bill that Democrats can vote on.

“I still think the entire 52 of us can get together and pass something more narrow,” Paul told Wallace.

Paul stated he believes that the GOP should pass a strict repeal of the Obamacare law, and replace it with “freedom.” Paul has defined this as allowing groups of people to form “insurance pools” that insurance companies can compete over.

Paul has used the AARP as an example in the past, saying that an insurance company couldn’t afford to turn down an insurance pool with some 33 million members.

 

McConnell had scheduled a vote this week, but has now postponed the vote further after it was announced that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) had surgery to remove a blood clot near an eye. McCain, who also has expressed doubts about voting yes on the bill according to The Washington Post, announced that he needs a week to recover, forcing McConnell to push back the vote in order to garner every vote he can.

McCain already believes that the bill will fail, however. During a July 9 interview with CBS News’ “Face the Nation,” McCain called the GOP bill “dead.” He was echoed by Sen. Bill Cassidy, (R-La.) the same Sunday, who also called the bill “dead” during an interview with Chris Wallace.