Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is reportedly trying to make side deals with billions of taxpayer dollars to get enough votes to pass the GOP health care bill (video below).
Six Republican senators have said they oppose the current version of the bill, notes Fox News, which ruined McConnell's goal of having the vote happen before Congress' Fourth of July recess.
McConnell needs at least 50 Republicans on board to pass the bill; Vice President Pence would then represent the tie-breaking 51st vote. The Congressional Budget Office projects that the Senate bill would cause 22 million Americans to lose their health care by 2020 by cutting Medicaid and individual subsidies to buy insurance.
The CBO also said the GOP plan would save $188 billion, which otherwise would have been used to support the existing Affordable Care Act. McConnell is trying to use those billions to entice holdout senators to support the GOP bill, notes Politico.
Three sources told the news site that some of the money might be spent on health savings accounts meant to woo Republican Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah. There could also be some more money dedicated to Medicaid and opioid addiction to attract moderate Republicans, but that would not be enough to shore up the deep cuts to Medicaid.
An unidentified aide to Sen. Lee told Politico: "We are still working with leadership to change the base bill."
Another Senate aide told the news site that June 27 would be "all about side deals," and another source said McConnell had already started his private deal-making with senators.
The negotiations won't take place in public, but rather behind the scenes.
Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer skewered that approach during a press conference on June 27, notes Mediaite:
We know the fight is not over. That is for sure. We're not resting on any laurels, nor do we feel any sense yet of accomplishment other than we are making progress because the American people are listening to our arguments.
Over the next couple of weeks, we know that leader McConnell will try to use a slush fund to buy off Republicans, cut backroom deals to try and get this thing done. So we're gonna watch this bill and all the machinations, behind closed doors as they might be, like a hawk.
An unidentified White House official confirmed the GOP deal-making to Politico: "There's no one-size-fits-all to getting these people on board. Each of them want different things, and we have to figure out if there is a path."
White House officials said if Republicans Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Dean Heller of Nevada keep opposing the Senate bill, then it is likely not going to pass.