Graham-Cassidy Obamacare repeal bill close to 50 votes

WASHINGTON — Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., says his last-ditch attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare is only a few votes shy of 50 and could pass before the fast-approaching Sept. 30 procedural deadline.

“We’re probably at 48, 49 [votes] and we’re talking to three more,” Cassidy told reporters at a briefing Friday morning. “I’m pretty confident we’ll get there on the Republican side.”

But Cassidy, a physician representing a state that expanded Medicaid under Obamacare, cautioned that he had not done a formal whip count. He is optimistic after presenting his bill during a lunch on Thursday of GOP senators. At one point, Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., told the group he was co-sponsoring the measure even though he’s been urged to “lay low” on health care while facing a tough reelection race back home, Cassidy said. Afterwards, several senators told him they’d vote yes on the bill.

“I told my wife when I got home last night that yesterday may have been my best day as a senator,” Cassidy said.

Another of the bill’s sponsors, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., is pushing the White House and GOP leadership to champion the bill, Cassidy said. President Trump released a statement earlier this week praising their efforts. “I sincerely hope that Senators Graham and Cassidy have found a way to address the Obamacare crisis,” Trump said.

The bill faces long odds, however, with Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., comparing passing it before the deadline to a “double-double bank shot” in pool. There’s also very little chance Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., would bring the measure to the floor unless it was guaranteed to pass, not wanting to repeat the spectacle when the Senate’s last attempt at repealing Obamacare failed dramatically in July.

The procedural vehicle that allows a bill to pass with just 51 votes is set to expire at the end of this month, adding urgency to the effort.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., announced Friday morning on Twitter he would not…

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