Senate advances health care bill — Pence breaks tie

Washington, D.C. — Senate Republicans voted to advance to floor debate on their efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Vice President Mike Pence cast the tiebreaking vote.

In a dramatic moment, Sen. John McCain returned from Arizona to applause from fellow senators. He cast a necessary Republican vote for the motion after two GOP senators sided with all Democrats in opposition.

As the vote began, protesters in the Senate gallery shouted “kill the bill” and “shame, shame, shame!”

The vote came as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Donald Trump dared their fellow Republicans to block their seven-year campaign promise to repeal and replace Obamacare.

The next step is floor debate on the legislation to overhaul the Affordable Care Act, even though there aren’t any guarantees the votes are there to eventually pass it. It’s still unclear what a final bill will look like.

Fifty votes will be needed to advance the bill, and with only 52 Republicans in the Senate (and no Democrats willing to back Obamacare repeal), there is no margin for error. Vice President Mike Pence will be on Capitol Hill in case he needs to break a tie.

A lot of corporations, organizations, etc. had a lot to say about the Senate Health Care vote.

Mary Mancini, chair of the Tennessee Democratic Party, released the following statement on the U.S. Senate voting to open debate on ACA repeal: “Sen. Corker and Sen. Alexander have once again shown that their party comes before the people of Tennessee. So, when you lose your health coverage, blame Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander. When your son or daughter, fresh out of college, can no longer be covered on your plan, blame Corker and Alexander. When your sick baby can’t get the care it desperately needs, blame Corker and Alexander. And when your grandma is kicked out of her nursing home, blame Corker and Alexander.”

The following is a statement from NMAC Executive Director Paul Kawata on the U.S. Senate’s health care vote: “The Senate’s vote to move forward with legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act is heartless and cruel. It will impose greater hardships on struggling American families, including millions of Americans living with or affected by HIV.

Data show that communities of color are at a higher risk for HIV and, should the ACA be repealed, they will see the care they’ve come to rely on be stripped away with no alternative. It’s no exaggeration to say that people will die if this repeal becomes reality. We implore the Senate to keep the Affordable Care Act in place and work together to make it stronger so we can improve the lives of all Americans.”