House leaders have yet to send their Obamacare repeal bill to the Senate as they await a budget analysis that could force them to revise — and re-vote on — the high-stakes legislation.
A House GOP leadership source indicated that the measure is highly likely to move to the Senate after the Congressional Budget Office releases its score of the bill early next week. But “out of an abundance of caution,” Republicans have held onto the measure, known as the American Health Care Act, the source said.
The news, first reported by Bloomberg, raises the prospect of another uncomfortable vote for GOP lawmakers. The House narrowly passed the legislation earlier this month after a series of wrenching negotiations among a divided Republican conference. The bill passed 217-213 and forced a slew of vulnerable and moderate lawmakers to support the bill through gritted teeth.
Asked about their hurry to pass the bill despite lacking a final CBO score, lawmakers argued they had only made small tweaks to the measure in the final negotiations. But they also need to ensure that the latest version conforms to complex budget reconciliation rules. Under reconciliation, the bill can pass the Senate with 51 votes, rather than the typical 60 vote-threshold, ensuring Democratic support is not needed.
“Based on the previous two scores, we believe we’ll hit our target deficit reduction number but we’re holding out of an abundance of caution,” the House GOP leadership aide said.
For the bill to meet the reconciliation standard, CBO must find that it results in at least $2 billion in reduced spending.
Senate Republican aides said Thursday they’re not worried about the updated bill violating reconciliation rules, but they also weren’t involved in crafting the House legislation. They knew they would always have to wait for a CBO score on the House bill because the same rules require the Senate’s version to reach at least the same amount of savings as the House’s.
Senate Republicans, who are working on their own bill, say they’re not close to putting legislation on the floor.