Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) wants the Senate to pass his health-care bill this week, before the July 4 break, and the next couple of days will be a test of his strategy to craft a major overhaul of the U.S. health-care system in secret and spring it on the Senate with no public hearings. He can afford to lose only two Republicans, and five have said they won't vote yes on the current version of the bill, with at least three others expressing strong reservations. Republican senators began listing their demands over the weekend.
McConnell's former chief of staff Josh Holmes compared his former boss' week to "a 747 landing on a suburban driveway," but one current McConnell staffer tells Jonathan Swan at Axios that McConnell has a 60 percent shot of passing the bill. Still, "most folks I've talked to in McConnell's orbit say it's more like a jump ball," Swan says, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is in that camp, telling ABC News This Week on Sunday that Republicans "have, at best, a 50-50 chance of passing this bill," odds he attributed to the "devastating" effects of the proposed legislation.
McConnell has some levers he will pull, however, and "Senate leaders have been trying to lock down Republican votes by funneling money to red states, engineering a special deal for Alaska, and arguing that they could insure more people at a lower cost than the House, which passed a repeal bill last month," The New York Times reports. The Chamber of Commerce supports the bill, but opposing it is a motley group that includes the Koch brothers organization Americans for Prosperity, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, medical groups, some Republican governors, and most of the health-care industry.
Senate GOP Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) said Sunday that the bill is on track for a Wednesday procedural vote, and possible passage late Thursday or early Friday, "but it's going to be close." Speaking at a Colorado retreat hosted by Charles Koch, Cornyn said that even if McConnell doesn't get a vote this week, the legislation is hardly dead. "I think August is the drop-dead line, about Aug. 1," he said. Axios' Swan said McConnell actually does need to pass the bill before the July 4 break, because "no senator I've spoken to thinks a bit of extra time spent with angry voters will make them more likely to support this bill."