For months, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has been a staunch critic of Senate Republicans’ replacement for the Affordable Care Act, publicly blasting it as “Obamacare-lite” because it leaves many of the law’s taxes and some of its regulations in place and allocates billions of dollars for insurance market stabilization that he derides as a “bailout.”
Paul has blocked previous iterations of the bill from ever seeing debate on the Senate floor, and was generally considered an un-winnable vote. But on Thursday, he said he would relent and support a motion to proceed—if GOP leaders guaranteed him a vote on an amendment that would swap in the 2015 Obamacare repeal bill.
Despite widespread reluctance from both moderate and hardline GOP senators, with Paul on board the bill is much more likely to come to the floor next week.
“If they want my vote, they have to at least agree that we’re going to at least vote on clean repeal,” he told reporters Thursday afternoon, adding that he will not be satisfied if the option is voted on late in the debate process. “There’s a difference between saying you can offer it at three in the morning on the fourth day, versus up front we have a vote on clean repeal, maybe BCRA, maybe Collins-Cassidy. I want equal billing, up front with other choices.”
Asked whether he would need his “clean repeal” amendment to be voted on first in order to agree to voting to start debate, Paul essentially suggested senators draw out of a hat.
“Let’s do a random selection,” he said. “Let’s have three or four of them, put them in random order on the first day, with equal billing. That’s a compromise and I’m willing to get on the bill.”