Before any discussion can start on the bill, there must be a procedural vote to allow debate. This is where we ask Senators to VOTE NO.
If a majority votes yes, the bill moves to debate.
Senators will have 20 hours to discuss the bill and make speeches.
During this stage of the process, we would ask Senate allies to make floor speeches about the importance of Medicaid.
If a majority vote no, Leadership either moves on to another issue or tries again in the future.
MOTION TO PROCEED PASSED 50-50 with
Vice President Pence
During this time, Senators from both parties offer and vote on amendments in rapid succession with no debate. This has included "poison pill" amendments in the past.
While it would be controversial, Senate Republican Leader McConnell can choose to only allow himself to place amendments. He has said he will not and Democrats have hundreds (literally) of amendments ready.
After the 20 hours of debate, Senate Leadership begins a process called "Vote-a-Rama."
Yes, it's actually called that. Because the budget process is expedited and only requires a simple majority to pass a bill, a budget bill must be clearly tied to budget issues. This is called the Byrd Rule.
Votes took place during debate that were not part of vote-a-rama :
- The full BCRA bill with amendments by Sens. Cruz and Portman (failed).
- Straight Obamacare repeal amendment by Sen. Paul (failed).
- Returning to committee process and removing Medicaid portions amendment by Sen. Donnelly (failed).
- Amendment restricting abortion funding by Senator Strange (failed).
- Sen. Heller amendment to repeal "Cadillad tax" in ACA (passed).
The BCRA had 10 clauses that were not Byrd compliant, and while that version of the bill has been defeated, the Byrd rule will continue to loom over alternative bills if they are voted on in the budget process.
"Skinny Repeal" Amendment meant to move bill forward DEFEATED.
3 Republican "No" Votes Were:
Collins, McCain, Murkowski
Senator McConnell has pulled the health care budget bill and next week has only put nominations on the docket. It remains to be seen whether he:
- Reaches out to Democrats, who have signaled willingness to work in a bipartisan manner; or
- Tries again with a different bill; or
- Moves on to other issues such as tax reform and leaves the administration (namely HHS/CMS) to reform health care and Medicaid through regulations.
Take a moment to appreciate the scope of your advocacy's effect... You did great!
Then please educate your lawmakers in Congress and in your state governments. Remember, Medicaid reform can still be approached through other bills, such as CHIP reauthorization. Stay tuned!
The End of the (Senate) Line.
At the end of this process, the Senate will vote on the final health care bill. It only needs 51 votes to pass, with Vice President Pence able to serve as tie-breaker.
At the very end of Vote-A-Rama, Senator McConnell can choose to switch out the bill that received all the amendments with another bill. This "King of the Hill" Amendment will replace all other passed amendments.
He is widely expected to do so, switching the bill with the "skinny repeal."
This would be time for a final push for your Senators to VOTE NO.
If the bill passes the Senate, it will go to the House. There the House will possibly make changes to it, such as adding back Medicaid clauses removed in the Senate. The two chambers will then meet ("conference") to discuss their differences and produce a final bill that each will need to vote upon in order for it to go to the President for his signature and to become law.
Your advocacy matters! Make sure your Senators and U.S. Representatives understand the importance of Medicaid!