On Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell formally began a process to bypass committee hearings and send a Senate Republican health-care bill directly to the floor for a vote by the July 4 recess, Tierney Sneed reports at Talking Points Memo. Republicans are writing their version of the House GOP's American Health Care Act in secret, and they emerged from a meeting on Tuesday more optimistic that they will have a plan that can attract at least 50 of 52 Republican votes, enough to pass the bill under budget reconciliation rules. On Tuesday, Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wy.) said that the Senate parliamentarian cleared the House version of the AHCA to be considered under reconciliation, removing one obstacle for Republicans.
Senate Republicans plan to submit a preliminary framework of their health-care plan to the Congressional Budget Office by the end of the week, which would allow a floor vote by the end of June, Politico reports. If they pass a health-care bill, it would be merged with the House version in a conference committee, and both chambers would have to vote again on the package that emerged. There was some speculation that McConnell would put up a vote on a bill he thought would fail, just to move on to other legislative priorities, but Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) said no, "he sure as hell doesn't want to do that." Republicans are "in the back seat with Thelma and Louise and we need to get out of the car," he said. "So details matter, but we need to get out of the car. That was the pre-eminent message."