Senate Republicans said today that they have given up on the idea of holding a vote on the Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson health insurance bill this week, but that they hope to pass it later.
The federal fiscal year 2017 ends Saturday. Republicans’ problems with getting the Graham-Cassidy bill through the Senate before the end of federal fiscal year 2017 could, possibly give backers of a bipartisan alternative developed by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee a narrow opening to pass a bill of their own.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republican leaders announced the decision to put off a vote on Graham-Cassidy at a press conference streamed live on C-SPAN.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., the lead sponsor, kicked off the press conference by announcing that he and other supporters will eventually pass the bill.
“It’s not a matter of if,” Graham said. “It’s only a matter of when.”
Another lead sponsor, Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., acknowledged that he and other supporters lack the votes to get the bill through the Senate this week.
“Since we don’t have the votes, we’ll postpone the vote,” Cassidy said.
McConnell said the Senate will now work on updating the tax code.
“We haven’t given up on changing the American health care system,” McConnell said, but he said that the Senate won’t pass a bill revamping the health care system this week.
Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., the highest-ranking Democrat on the Senate HELP Committee, have been working for months on a bill that could shore up the individual major medical insurance market, and the Affordable Care Act public health insurance exchange system, while broader efforts to change the ACA were under way.