On Tuesday, Senate Republicans voted, 51-50, to start debate on the Obamacare repeal, with Vice President Pence casting the tie-breaking vote. Later in the night, the Senate voted on the Better Care Reconciliation Act — a repeal and replace bill — which failed, 43-57. And on Wednesday, the Obamacare Repeal Reconciliation Act, which repeals most of the Affordable Care Act without a replacement, failed, 45-55.
So what’s next?
As Vox’s Dylan Scott writes, we’ll likely see a lot more floor debate, a vote-a-rama in which Senators from both sides of the aisle introduce amendments, and then Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will introduce a final bill that they’ll actually vote on — perhaps the “skinny repeal,” which repeals the individual mandate and little else.
But here’s where things get weird: If the Senate passes the skinny repeal, they can either send it directly to the House for a vote. Or the two chambers can go into what’s called a conference committee to negotiate a bill that would likely repeal and replace Obamacare — and one that can get simple majorities in both chambers. (Dylan has a great explainer on this possibility here.)
To give you a better idea of what’s to come, here’s an updated flowchart showing the narrow but feasible path Republicans have to pass a health care bill:
The margin of error for Republicans isn’t huge, but if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can satisfy some of the dissenting Republicans, it’s possible he could get enough support to pass a health care bill of some sort. Amazingly, we don’t know what bill the Senate will vote on if it gets to a final passage vote.