A bill to repeal and replace Obamacare is coming Thursday, and a vote could happen as early as next week, according to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
“We’re going to lay out a discussion draft Thursday morning. You’ll be able to take a look at it,” the Kentucky Republican told reporters Tuesday. He said a vote would come up “likely next week.”
Republicans won’t vote on the legislation until it is scored by the Congressional Budget Office. The CBO is the independent nonpartisan office that analyzes how many people will be affected by the legislation and how much it’ll cost.
McConnell said that the bill was being drafted in public and that any senator could have come to working group meetings and given their input during group lunches.
But other Republicans — who were in the working groups designated with drafting the bill — disagreed.
Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, was supposed to be one of the 13 GOP senators who wrote the bill, but in a Facebook video published Tuesday, he said he also hadn't seen a draft.
“It has become increasingly apparent in the past few days that even though we thought we were going to be in charge of writing this bill within this working group, it's not being written by us,” Lee said. “So, if you're frustrated by the lack of transparency in this process, I share your frustration — I share it wholeheartedly.”
"Why exactly should we be moving forward with a plan for voting on something that the American people haven't seen and that most of their senators in the United States Senate haven't had the chance to see?" Lee continued.
Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, was a member of that same group. He told Ohio reporters on Tuesday he had not seen it.
“There’s no bill at this point,” he said. “I don’t think you will find anybody who knows what’s in it. If they do, I’d like to talk to them.”
Portman said he would like the Senate to hold hearings on the legislation once it is made public, and he cautioned against rushing the bill through the Senate to meet an “arbitrary” deadline.
“We need to have adequate time to review it,” he said. “We should take as much time as necessary to get it right."
McConnell told reporters there was no sense doing hearings for the bill because Democrats would just try and slow down things with their amendments.
“No transparency would have been added by having hearings in which Democrats offered endless single-payer system amendments,” McConnell said.
McConnell's announcement comes as Senate Democrats participate in a series of stunts to slow the government down to show their opposition to a repeal.
Even with a draft of the legislation, it is not clear if Senate Republicans will be able to pass their bill. The GOP has a narrow 52-48 lead in the Senate and can only lose two votes if they want the bill to move. No Democrats are expected to vote to dismantle their signature health care law and Senate Republicans have raised a variety of issues with the bill that passed in the House in May.
If the Senate does pass a bill, it is likely to be more moderate than what the House passed. One GOP Senate aide said that President Trump described the House version as "mean."
A different bill would be sent back to the House, and lawmakers from both chambers would have to come up with a compromise version. Conservatives in the House are already warning the Senate of making their legislation too moderate if they want it to keep support from House conservatives.