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Republican senators could block the GOP's Obamacare replacement from moving forward this week

  • Four Republican senators have said they will oppose a procedural motion to proceed on the Senate GOP Obamacare replacement bill without changes.
  • Republicans can only lose two votes in their push to pass the plan this week.
  • The Congressional Budget Office estimates the bill would lead to 22 million more uninsured Americans by 2026.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (C) talks to reporters with (L-R) Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), Sen. John Barrosso (R-WY) and Sen. John Thune (R-SD) following their party's weekly policy luncheon at the U.S. Capitol May 16, 2017 in Washington, DC.
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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (C) talks to reporters with (L-R) Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), Sen. John Barrosso (R-WY) and Sen. John Thune (R-SD) following their party's weekly policy luncheon at the U.S. Capitol May 16, 2017 in Washington, DC.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants to pass the GOP's Obamacare replacement this week, but the plan is in serious danger of stalling before it even comes to a vote.

As of Tuesday morning, four Republican senators — enough to block a procedural motion to proceed with the bill — have said they will oppose the motion barring changes to the plan. A Congressional Budget Office score on Monday saying that the proposal would lead to 22 million more uninsured Americans by 2026 only complicated matters for moderate GOP senators on the fence.

GOP Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, a swing vote, said Monday night she will vote "no" on the motion to proceed, tweeting that the Senate bill does not "fix the flaws" of Obamacare. She joined Sen. Dean Heller, a vulnerable Nevada Republican who previously said he would vote against advancing the bill as written due to its rollback of Medicaid expansion.

On the conservative side, Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin also said they would not back the motion to proceed this week for the bill as written. They argue that the plan does not go far enough to repeal Obamacare.

"I won't vote to proceed to it unless the bill changes," Paul told reporters on Monday, noting that he wants to negotiate.

Source: Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, Congressional Budget Office

The Senate's No. 2 GOP leader, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, indicated Tuesday that a procedural vote to proceed with the plan could come as soon as Wednesday. Republicans, who hold 52 Senate seats, can only lose two votes and still pass the bill. Vice President Mike Pence would have to break a tie in that scenario.

Republicans face difficulties in winning over skeptical senators, as tweaks to appease conservatives could alienate moderates, or vice versa. The hurdles threaten to delay a key plank of the sweeping agenda Republicans hoped to pass when President Donald Trump won the White House and the GOP held both chambers of Congress.

The White House issued a statement Monday questioning the report's findings, saying that "the CBO has consistently proven it cannot accurately predict how health-care legislation will impact insurance coverage."

Shortly before the CBO released the score, Senate Republicans unveiled one tweak that appears aimed to deter younger, healthier people from dropping insurance. The updated bill would impose a six-month waiting period on individuals who buy insurance but let their coverage lapse for more than 63 days in the prior year.

The GOP could still win skeptical senators over with last-minute amendments. House Republicans did the same to gather more votes before the chamber narrowly passed its own Obamacare replacement last month.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said Tuesday that he has "every expectation" the Senate will pass a health-care bill, adding, "I would not bet against Mitch McConnell."

The political pressure has already increased on potential Republican swing votes. Pence is hosting Sen. Mike Lee of Utah — who previously opposed the current bill — and three other conservative senators for dinner on Tuesday night.

Meanwhile, a pro-Trump super PAC has launched an ad buy against Heller over his opposition to the plan, according to multiple reports.

On the other hand, a group opposing Obamacare repeal, Save My Care, has launched an ad blitz against Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, a moderate who could potentially oppose the GOP plan.