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Senate GOP releases health bill draft ahead of possible vote
[WASHINGTON] Senate Republican leaders released their much-awaited health care bill on Thursday morning after months of closed-door meetings, but it's not yet clear if they will have the votes to pass it as soon as next week.
Republican senators said Wednesday they expect a slower phase-out of Obamacare's Medicaid expansion than the House-passed bill as well as more generous tax credits than the House bill for lower-income people. But the legislation is still expected to result in millions of people losing insurance when evaluated by the Congressional Budget Office - an estimate the No 2 Senate Republican, John Cornyn of Texas, said he expects by Monday.
The 142-page bill itself will be subject to significant revisions as well - McConnell earlier in the week called it a "discussion draft" - giving moderates and conservatives the potential to claim wins later as it heads to the floor if they are able to secure changes.
Republicans were also negotiating with the Senate parliamentarian to see which pieces of their emerging draft comply with rules governing the use of a mechanism allowing the bill to pass the Senate with only 50 votes, plus the support of Vice President Mike Pence.
If a majority of senators vote to bring the bill to the floor next week, it would then face 20 hours of debate followed by votes on a potentially unlimited number of amendments. Republicans would have to hold together against numerous Democratic amendments - which would likely be aimed at making them choose between tax cuts or higher benefits for the poor and the middle class - and then vote for final passage.
A Senate-passed bill would then go to the House, which would have the choice of approving the Senate version and sending it to President Donald Trump's desk or negotiating a compromise version, which would then have to pass both chambers.