Senate Starts Process to Repeal Parts of the Affordable Care Act


This afternoon, the Senate approved a motion to proceed (MTP) to allow debate to begin on the American Health Care Act (AHCA). The AHCA was the bill passed by the House of Representatives which would have repealed parts of the Affordable Care Act –often referred to as Obamacare.  The vote was 51 for the MTP and 50 against.  Vice President Pence cast the tie-breaking vote which allowed the motion to proceed to be passed.

Senate Majority Leader McConnell is expected to offer an amendment in the nature of a substitute (AINS), which will strip out the House-passed AHCA language in favor of alternative Senate legislative language. At present, it is unclear whether the AINS will include the Senate’s revised Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) provisions or the Obamacare Repeal Reconciliation Act (ORRA), the newly revised version of the 2015 repeal and delay reconciliation bill.

Ostensibly, Leadership will let members know during the weekly lunch which approach they will include in the AINS for consideration by the Senate. In the hours leading up to the lunch, we also may get a clearer picture of the direction in which the Senate is headed. In the meantime, the Administration has issued the attached Statement of Administration Policy (SAP), which expresses support for any of the three legislative options detailed above.

Following is an overview of the anticipated process for legislative action in the Senate now that the MTP is approved.

• 20 hours of debate on the AHCA begins.
• Leader McConnell is expected to offer an amendment in the nature of a substitute (AINS) to the AHCA, including either the revised BCRA language or ORRA.

• 20 hours of debate expires some time on Wednesday.
• Vote-a-rama on various amendments to the bill begins (typically early evening in recent history) and likely continues into Thursday or possibly even Friday.  Under the budget rules, all Senators can bring an unlimited number of amendments to the bill, as long as they are “germane” and would not add to the budget deficit. 

• Vote-a-rama potentially concludes. 
• A final substitute amendment (sometimes referred to as a wraparound amendment) may be offered as the last vote to incorporate and/or remove adopted amendments as well as address any Byrd Rule issues.
• Final passage vote timing depends on the length of the vote-a-rama. 

After the Senate votes on the bill, it will be sent again to the House.  The House could vote to accept the bill sent by the Senate, which is likely if the Senate bill results in many of the provisions of Obamacare being repealed. 

Once the Senate bill is approved by the House, it will be sent to President Trump for his signature and the bill will become law. 

Media Contact:

Martin Trussell
(202) 659-4300

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