Live now: Senate health care bill vote

The Senate has voted in favor on a motion to proceed with debate on the Senate’s health care plan to effectively repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. 

Highlights from the vote:

  • After 50 “no” votes from the Democrats and 50 “yes” votes from Republicans, Vice President Mike Pence breaks the tie

  • Sen. John McCain is welcomed back to Senate with standing ovation, votes “yes”

  • Protesters scream “kill the bill, don’t kill us” disrupting start of vote

The first vote is intended to open debate on the American Health Care Act (AHCA), the GOP-sponsored Obamacare replacement plan that passed the House of Representatives in May.

Numerous amendments will now be offered that will dramatically change the nature of the House-passed legislation. Some amendments include a proposal to repeal and replace Obamacare, while another could simply repeal the 2010 health care law in its entirety and provide Congress with two years to figure out a replacement health care plan. 

President Donald Trump has publicly pressured Republicans to vote to proceed and find a way to replace Obamacare. 

Follow live updates below: 

Schumer says Republicans are “in trouble” with health care bill

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, told reporters, “It’s clear they’re in trouble. John McCain gave the most amazing, moving speech basically against the bill and certainly against the process that Leader McConnell used.” 

“Leader McConnell has a long way to go before he can get this done,” he said. 

Schumer said that anyone who votes to for the final product is voting to “kick off millions off health care” and to make it harder to get coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, provide tax cuts to the wealthy and cut from Medicaid. 

Clerk reads first amendment to health care plan

The Senate now hears in detail the first amendment being offered by Majority Leader McConnell. 

McConnell says the vote is was responsible

CBS News’ Nancy Cordes asked McConnell if the vote was responsible.

“Of course, it is wide open to amendments,” McConnell said, adding that the Senate went through a similar process 7 years ago. 

“We’re going to sort this out in a thoroughly open amendment process,” he said. 

McConnell says the Senate will “hopefully finish voting by the end of the week

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, spoke to reporters after the initial procedural vote and said he has offered one amendment already to the bill. 

“This is an open amendment process…this is just the beginning,” he said.

McConnell said the Senate will finish “hopefully” by the end of the week with a measure that could go to the House or go to conference with House Republicans. 

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, called on his colleagues to help “improve the bill.”

“This is just the beginning and not the end.

Debate begins on health care legislation

Senators now begin debate over their health care legislation, as amendments to the Senate’s plan are expected to be raised. 

McCain to Senators: “Let’s trust each other” 

With visible wounds from his eye surgery and recuperating from his brain cancer diagnosis, McCain tells Senators now is the time to “trust one another” and “rely on humility.” 

He urged Senators to “stop listening to the bombasting loud mouths on radio and television, to hell with them!”

McCain added that he voted to allow the debate to continue on health care, but “will not vote for this bill as it today, its a shell of a bill right now we all know that.”

He noted that there is a need to work across the aisle to pass “something full of compromises.”

McCain also hit on Mr. Trump during his speech to lawmakers, saying “whether we are not of the same party, we are not the president’s subordinates, we are his equal.”

The Republican thanked his colleagues for their concerns and prayers saying “they mean a lot to me.”

“I appreciate every word, even if much of it isn’t deserved,” he adds. McCain said that he will stay in Washington for a few more days before returning home to Arizona for recovery, but intends on joining his colleagues sometime in the future. 

Motion to proceed passes

With 51 “yes” votes, including a tie-breaking vote by Vice President Mike Pence,  and 50 no votes, the motion to proceed to debate on the Senate’s health care plan passes. 

Now, the reconciliation process allows senators to offer unlimited amendments, before coming to a final vote on the bill. 

Sen John McCain arrives to sound of applause in Senate

The Senate floor rises and applauds as McCain enters the floor amid his brain cancer diagnosis.  With a thumbs up, he votes in the affirmative. 

Johnson in discussion with McConnell before vote

Sen. Ron Johnson is seen discussing with the Majority Leader on the floor before he takes his vote. 

McCain, Johnson votes remain

Republican Sens. John McCain and Ron Johnson are all that remains to give Republicans the edge to the motion to proceed. McCain’s flight from Arizona to D.C. has reportedly landed and he is en route to the Capitol for his vote. 

Collins and Murkowski vote “no” on motion to proceed

Republican Sens. Collins and Murkowski have voted no on the motion to proceed to debate. If Republicans lose one more vote the motion to proceed will fail.

Vote on debate to consider health care begins

Senators begin to vote on the motion to proceed to debate over the Senate’s health care plan. 

“Kill the bill, don’t kill us” chants ring out in Senate

Chants to kill the Senate’s bill as the floor prepares to come to a vote from protesters on Capitol Hill. “Shame! Shame! Shame,” the protesters shouted before the Senate came back to order.  

Capito to vote “yes” on motion to proceed

A previous holdout of hte Senate’s health care plan, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virinia said in a statement, she will in fact vote to proceed to debate on the Senate’s bill. 

“As this process advances on the Senate floor, I will continue to make decisions that are in the best interest of West Virginians. I remain committed to forming our health care system while also addressing the concerns I have voiced for months,” Capito said in a statement. 

McConnell says “we have duty to act” on health care

Majority Leader McConnell called Tuesday’s vote a “critical first step” in the process to reofrm health care. 

He added, “With a surprise election comes a great opportunity to do things we never thought possible.”

Schumer: Americans have not been treated to “high-minded debate”

Schumer, speaking on the Senate floor lambasted the Republicans, saying they “bypassed the committee process entirely” with no opportunity for the Democrats to “amend the bill or even read it.”

He added that the Senate’s bill is a “vague plan to pass anything to get the bill to a House and Senate conference on health care.”

“Plain and simple: it’s a rouse,” Schumer said. 

Schumer pleaded with Republicans to “turn back before its too late.”

“We can go through regular order, we want to work with you, we know the ACA is not perfect, but we also know what you proposed is much worse,” added Schumer. 

Nevada Sen. Dean Heller a “yes” on motion to proceed 

Heller, in a statement released before the Senate comes to a vote, said, “Obamacare isn’t the answer, but doing nothing to try to solve the problems it has created isn’t the answer either.”

He added, “That is why I will vote to move forward and give us a chance to address the unworkable aspects of the law that have left many Nevadans – particularly those living in rural areas – with dwindling or no choices.”

Heller conceded however, “If the final product isn’t improved for the state of Nevada, then I will not vote for it; if it is improved, I will support it.”

Paul discusses health care voting process 

Post-GOP lunches, Sen. Rand Paul said while he expects 50 votes to proceed on the motion to continue the health care vote, he added the process will then include a vote on the 2015 clean repeal plan to be considered as the first amendment, and the Senate leadership’s BCRA plan as the second amendment.  

Paul said many members are predicting the Senate will then vote on a “skinny repeal that involves some form of consensus.”

“We can find consensus if we narrow the focus of the bill,” he added.”

Rand Paul supports combination of 2015, BCRA plans

Speaking to reporters, Paul said that a possible option could involve parts of the 2015 ACA repeal and parts of the BCRA Senate plan. 

He added, “The best way to find out is to vote one at a time.”

Mike Rounds supports “repeal with delayed implementation”

South Dakota Republican Sen. Mike Rounds said that he would support a “stripped down plan” that would include a delayed implementation date for two years should the motion to proceed get to a next step.

“We can’t simply walk away from trying to repair this product because right now, it’s not sustainable,” added Rounds. 

Collins says she’s a “no” on 2015 plan

Speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill, Collins said of the Senate’s vote, “This seems to be a moving target and I don’t know what we’re proceeding to vote on.”

Murkowski not yet confirmed on “motion to proceed”

A press secretary for Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said, “The Senator hasn’t said which way she will vote on today’s MTP as she’s pushing for clarity on what we are proceeding to.”

Murkowski has been a major holdout on the Senate’s plan who has said she will not support voting on repeal of there is not a workable replacement in place that gives her constituents choice, affordability and quality in their insurance. 

Senator Ron Johnson R-Wisconsin and Senator Jeff Flake, R-Arizona joined in Murkwoski’s apprehension before the vote, telling CBS News they are still undecided as well. 

Senate in recess until 2:15 pm

The Senate has gone into recess to attend weekly conferences and lunches before taking up the health care vote.

McConnell urges colleagues to vote on “critical first step” to end “failed left-wing experiment”

“In just a couple of hours, senators will have an important decision to make,” he said in remarks on the Senate floor. 

He said that they have an opportunity to vote on a critical first step to move beyond what he called Obamacare’s failure. He said many Republicans have made commitments to repeal the “failed left-wing experiment,” he said. McConnell added that they now have a “real opportunity to begin debate” and send “smarter health care solutions” to the president’s desk.

John McCain to return to the Senate in the afternoon, deliver remarks 

The Arizona Republican will return to the Senate Tuesday afternoon following his cancer diagnosis and will deliver remarks on the Senate floor and hold a press conference afterward, his office said.

Rand Paul says he’ll vote in favor of the “motion to proceed” because of assurances from McConnell

Paul tweeted that McConnell informed him Tuesday morning that that the plan is to write on a repeal and delay plan that resembles a Senate-passed bill from 2015.

He said if that’s the plan, he would vote in favor of the motion to proceed to begin debate.

CBS News’ Rebecca Shabad and Emily Tillett contributed to this report 



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