Without these 3 GOP senators, Trumpcare won’t pass the Senate

“You’re gonna need congressional approval, and you don’t have the votes.”

CREDIT: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley
CREDIT: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley

There are 52 Republicans in the Senate, and three of them have made clear they will not vote for the GOP plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. It cannot pass without them.

Senators Rand Paul (R-KY), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Tom Cotton (R-AR) have stated unequivocally that the legislation introduced in the House this week is not conservative enough to earn their support. Cotton was the latest to take this stance in a series of tweets Thursday morning.

Cotton’s last tweet refers to the House’s rushed schedule to advance the legislation. The House Ways and Means Committee held 18 hours of debate on Wednesday and approved the plan along party lines at 4:30 a.m. Thursday morning.


Lee, in addition to retweeting Cotton’s tweets Thursday morning, has also been adamant that he cannot support the Trumpcare plan. In a statement issued Tuesday, he called it “a missed opportunity and a step in the wrong direction.” He even pointed out the hypocrisy of trying to force it through so quickly. “This is exactly the type of back-room dealing and rushed process that we criticized Democrats for, and it is not what we promised the American people,” he said.

And Paul has probably been the most outspoken Senator against the plan. On Tuesday he described it as “Obamacare Lite” and declared that “it will not pass,” prompting at least one Gandalf GIF in response.

With the bill’s prospects looking grim, some are already starting to play the blame game. The White House has been characterizing President Donald Trump as a sort of “Negotiator in Chief” working to advance the bill, but Paul isn’t convinced that any tweaks to the bill will change its outcome.


“The leadership is selling him a bill of goods and has mischaracterized to him the amount of opposition,” Paul told the Washington Post. “The speaker keeps saying the votes are there, and the president could end up being annoyed.”

Trump seems to see the situation as a “make or break” moment. According to CNN’s Jim Acosta, Trump said if the repeal-and-replace legislation doesn’t pass, he’ll sabotage Obamacare and try to pin its failure on Democrats.

But House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is feeling the pressure. He told Fox News Thursday morning that if congressional Republicans like Cotton, Lee, and Paul kill the bill because they don’t think it’s conservative enough, “that blame will be all upon us for the failure of Obamacare.”

On the other hand, 51 percent of voters said in a recent poll that they do not believe Trump should support efforts to repeal Obamacare. It’s thus unclear who would be blaming whom for what outcome. Congressional Republicans seem most concerned about a political win, but if millions of people lose their coverage — either because the Republican health care plan fails or because Trump abandons any efforts to follow through on implementing Obamacare — there will be many losers.

And the plan can’t pass the Senate with only 49 votes.