The Senate just killed the GOP’s last-resort Obamacare repeal plan

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
Mark Wilson

Senate Republican leaders early Friday suffered a stunning defeat in their plans to reshape the US healthcare system.

In the wee hours of Friday morning, the Senate voted against a “skinny repeal” bill, which would have repealed certain aspects of the Affordable Care Act. If passed, it was geared toward the House and Senate working together to compromise on one final bill.

The legislation’s failure followed days of activity in the Senate, including a flurry of action Thursday.

Check out our recap of the day’s action below.

1:37 a.m. – The Senate just voted down the GOP’s “skinny repeal” plan.

The vote to take up the Health Care Freedom Act instead of the House healthcare bill failed early Friday, with 49 voting in favor and 51 voting against. Republican senators John McCain, Lisa Murkowski, and Susan Collins voted against the plan.

1:30 a.m. – Senator John McCain votes no on the “skinny repeal” plan.

Senator John McCain is a key vote for the Republicans. While he voted “yes” on a version of the Republican repeal-and-replace plan, he also voted against the repeal-without-replacement plan.

McCain was joined by Senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins in voting against the “skinny repeal” plan.

1:25 a.m. – Senate votes down a motion to send the bill back to the HELP Committee.

Senator Patty Murray’s motion to send the bill back to the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions committee was voted down, with 48 voting in favor and 52 voting against it.

The vote didn’t close for nearly an hour, with the Senate using that time to chat. It delayed a vote on the Health Care Freedom Act, nicknamed the “skinny repeal” plan. The Senate has now started voting on that plan.

11 p.m. – CBO says “skinny repeal” bill will leave 16 million more Americans without health insurance.

Under the “Health Care Freedom Act,” nicknamed the “skinny repeal” bill, the Congressional Budget Office found that it would leave 16 million more Americans without health insurance. Premiums would increase by 20% every year until 2026.

The bill would also impact people on Medicaid. Of the 16 million more Americans without insurance by 2026, 7 million of those would be those previously covered by Medicaid. From 2017 to 2026, the bill would cut a total $235 billion from Medicaid.

10 p.m. – Senate Republicans release their last-ditch effort to repeal Obamacare.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

After hours of debate, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced an 8-page plan, called the “Health Care Freedom Act.” It repeals the individual and employer mandates, along with some key taxes that the Affordable Care Act put into place.

The American Medical Association came out against the Health Care Freedom Act on Thursday, calling it a “toxic prescription.”

The Senate will vote on the plan at midnight, along with a motion to commit from Senator Patty Murray of Washington. The vote will be on replacing the House bill, the American Health Care Act, with the HCFA.

9:50 p.m. – Senate passes Heller amendment.

FILE PHOTO – Senator Dean Heller at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington
Thomson Reuters

Heller’s amendment repeals the “Cadillac tax” places a tax on high-end healthcare plans in an attempt to keep healthcare spending lower.

It’s the first successful vote the Senate’s had since it started its 20 hours of debate on Tuesday.

9 p.m. – Senate votes down a motion to send the bill back to the Finance Committee.

Senator Chuck Schumer’s motion to commit failed, with 57 voting against and 43 voting in favor.

7:45 p.m. Senator Dean Heller introduces amendment to repeal “Cadillac tax.”


Senator Dean Heller of Nevada, who has been a key vote on the Senate healthcare plan, on Thursday introduced an amendment that would repeal the ACA’s “Cadillac Tax.” The “Cadillac tax” places a tax on high-end healthcare plans in an attempt to keep healthcare spending lower.

The vote, along with a motion to commit from Senator Chuck Schumer, is scheduled for 8:30 p.m.

7:30 p.m. House Speaker Paul Ryan says he’s willing to go to conference on the healthcare bill.

On Thursday, Ryan commented on whether the House would take the skinny repeal bill to conference if it passes the Senate.

“If moving forward requires a conference committee, that is something the House is willing to do,” Ryan said.

Whether that will be enough to sway some senators to vote for the bill remains to be seen.

6:45 p.m. – Senate Republicans start pushing for “skinny repeal.”

Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma spoke in favor of passing a “skinny” version of the GOP healthcare plan.

That happened shortly after four Republican senators said they demand assurances that the healthcare bill be taken to conference by the House should the Senate pass it.

“I am not going to vote for the skinny bill if I’m not assured by the House there will be a conference where my idea and other ideas will be taken up so we can actually repeal Obamacare,” Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said in a press conference Thursday with Senators John McCain, Ron Johnson, and Bill Cassidy.

5:40 p.m. – Senate votes down stability funding amendment.

The amendment from Senator Luther Strange didn’t pass, with 50 voting for the amendment and 50 voting against. It needed 60 to pass.

5 p.m. – Senate votes on stability funding amendment.


Senator Luther Strange of Alabama introduced an amendment that would change the stability funding in the Better Care Reconciliation Act to provide more premium assistance for low-income individuals. It would need 60 votes to pass.

Senators will also be voting on a sanctions amendment unrelated to healthcare.

3:00 p.m. – Senate votes down single-payer health plan.


The plan, proposed as an amendment to the House bill by Sen. Steve Daines of Montana, was called the Expanded & Improved Medicare For All Act. It was overwhelmingly voted down, with the 57 voting “no” and many Democrats choosing to vote “present.” There wasn’t a single “yes” vote.

Before the vote, Sanders taunted Daines, saying that he’d be on board if the Republican senator could convince a few more members of his party to vote for the bill.

12 p.m. – Senator Bernie Sanders calls Daines amendment an ‘old political trick’.

Sen. Bernie Sanders
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

During debate on Thursday, Sanders addressed the upcoming Daines amendment, which would introduce a “Medicare for All” healthcare plan.

“I hope that this is really a breakthrough,” Sanders said of the bill, which was introduced by Republican Senator Steve Daines. But, he said, he suspects it’s just an “old political trick” inserted a mid a serious debate about healthcare.

“I think this is not a time for political games,” Sanders said.

Sanders has been a proponent of “Medicare for All,” but isn’t buying into Daines’ plan to expose which members of the Democratic caucus might be in favor of a single-payer healthcare system.

10 a.m. – Debate opens for the day, with a vote on single-payer healthcare coming this afternoon.

The plan, introduced as an amendment to the House bill by Republican Sen. Steve Daines of Montana, is titled the “Expanded & Improved Medicare For All Act.”

The amendment would set up a universal healthcare system in which all Americans would be covered through Medicare, the federal government’s health program that currently covers all adults who are at least 65 years old.

But the vote, which is scheduled for 2:15 p.m. on Thursday, isn’t expected to pass. Daines doesn’t even support it. The intention is to try to expose which senators would vote in favor of a single-payer system.