The Senate has blocked a wide-ranging proposal by Republicans to repeal much of former President Barack Obama's health care law and replace it with a more restrictive plan.
Senators voted 57-43 late Tuesday to reject the plan in the first vote on an amendment to the bill. Those voting "no" included nine defecting Republicans, including Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker.
Sen. Lamar Alexander, who serves on the Senate health committee, voted in favor of the proposal.
“Every senator, Republican and Democrat alike, will now have a virtually unlimited opportunity to debate and offer amendments to help put together a health care bill that helps Americans," Alexander said in a release. "Throughout this process, my focus will be on Tennessee, where 350,000 Tennesseans who buy their insurance in the collapsing individual market—songwriters, farmers, the self-employed, small businessmen and women—may find themselves with zero options in 2018 and 2019.”
The vote underscored problems Republicans will have in winning enough votes to recast Obama's statute.
The rejected proposal included language by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell erasing the Obama law's tax penalties on people not buying insurance and cutting Medicaid.
Language by Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz would let insurers sell cut-rate policies with skimpy coverage. And there was an additional $100 billion to help states ease costs for people losing Medicaid sought by Midwestern moderates.
Tuesday night's vote came after Vice President Mike Pence broke a tied vote to begin discussing the health care bill earlier in the day.