What is it about the bill that’s such a turn off? Depends on who you ask, when, where, and which version of the plan they’re looking at. (With policy this complicated, there’s typically something for everyone to hate.) And since the plan keeps morphing as leadership cuts some regulations here and adds some money there in the ongoing push to woo specific lawmakers, it can be tough to keep track of who is (or is not) signing on to what. (This is itself a sneaky tool of the trade.)
So, for those keeping score at home, here’s a watercooler-ready cheat-sheet on several (but not all!) of the Senate Republicans who, as of the latest rollout, remained publicly angsty about the bill, along with the particulars they say are bugging them. (As always, a lawmaker’s true, full motivation remains one of the universe’s great mysteries.):
Susan Collins. For the Maine centrist, the provision stripping federal funding from Planned Parenthood for one year has been a sticking point from the get-go. Again this past week, she slammed the effort as “short-sighted” and “unfair” and pledged to keep working to strike the language from the bill.
More broadly, Collins is one of many Republican senators worried about the plan’s deep and steep cuts to Medicaid. After the conference’s Thursday briefing on the revised bill, Collins told reporters she feared the cuts “would shift costs onto state governments, it would hurt the most vulnerable citizens, it would have an adverse impact particularly on our rural healthcare providers, our hospitals, and our nursing homes. And it is not something that I can support.” Having snagged one of the two free-pass “no” votes, Collins is disinclined to let the bill even proceed to the floor for debate.
Rand Paul. The Kentucky Tea Partyer is the only other Republican thus far to Just Say No. (Which means both free passes are taken, leaving the rest of the lawmakers on this list to flounder in various states of “concern.”) Makes sense. The dude’s a libertarian. He loathes everything about Obamacare, with its Big Brothery regulations and mandates and taxes—too many of which, he feels, are preserved, and in some cases expanded, by the GOP plan.
In particular, Paul has zero use for the refundable tax credits to help lower-income folks buy coverage. And no way he’s going to get behind a stabilization fund aimed at helping insurers offset the costs of high-risk enrollees. His office helpfully directed me to an op-ed by Paul that ran in Breitbart on Wednesday, in which the senator trashed his party’s plan as “Obamacare-lite.” (“One might even argue it’s worse,” he wrote, “because it actually creates a giant superfund to bail out the insurance companies—something even the Democrats feared to do.”) His verdict: “Shame.”
Mike Lee. This ultraconservative has been on a bit of a rollercoaster ride. His preference is for total annihilation of Obamacare, and he rejected the original Senate bill outright because it didn’t scrap enough of the ACA’s regulations. But then he huddled up with his buddy Ted Cruz to champion what has come to be known as the Cruz amendment or the Cruz-Lee amendment. This provision would allow insurers to sell policies that did not meet Obamacare’s coverage standards so long as they also offered at least one option that did. After some back-and-forth, leadership dug the proposal enough to put it in the rewrite. And voila! Lee wound up unhappy again.