Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is aiming to send a revised version of his health-care bill to the Congressional Budget Office by as soon as Friday, according to Capitol Hill aides and lobbyists.
The effort reflects the tight timeline McConnell faces in his attempt to hold a vote before the August recess – and the pressure he is under to make changes that improve the CBO’s measure of the bill’s impact on coverage levels and federal spending.
McConnell is trying to move quickly to produce a new CBO score by the time lawmakers return to Washington in mid-July, giving the Senate about two weeks to fulfill the majority leader’s goal of voting before the August recess.
McConnell and his aides plan to continue negotiations through the end of the week and will be in frequent communication with the CBO, according to McConnell spokesman David Popp.
It remains unclear exactly what parts of the Better Care Reconciliation Act are being revised – or whether McConnell is trying to move the measure to the right, with greater savings or regulatory adjustments, or to the left, with more coverage protections. McConnell needs to bring on board about nine Republican senators,including Susan Collins of Maine, who have said they wouldn’t vote for the billin its current form. Moving to the right would appease conservatives in the Senate – but also in the House, where any Senate bill would also have to pass.
Aides both at the White House and on Capitol Hill are aware of the effort, several Republican aides said Wednesday on condition of anonymity to discuss private talks. One aide described the situation as akin to the weeks leading up to the draft bill’s release, when McConnell presented chunks of the emerging legislation to CBO to expedite the scoring process. The aide expected Republican leaders to present tweaks to CBO for review as soon as this week.
Another aide said that after Tuesday’s meeting with President Trump at the White House, Republicans have a better sense now of what everyone wants. A draft is not yet ready, but the reworking process has begun.
Robert Costa, Kelsey Snell, Paul Kane and Juliet Eilperin contributed to this report.