If you are wondering why the Senate hasn’t started working on the American Health Care Act two weeks after the House passed the bill, you aren’t alone. Bloomberg reports that the measure is stalled with the House leadership after being approved by a four-vote margin earlier this month.
According to Bloomberg, the holdup is a series of last minute amendments that were made before the vote in order to garner more support. The late changes have not been scored by the Congressional Budget Office and Republican leaders are waiting for the CBO numbers before sending the bill to the Senate.
If the CBO numbers don’t show at least $2 billion reduction in the deficit, it would doom the bill in the Senate because it would not qualify for the budget reconciliation process that avoids a Democrat filibuster. The GOP would be forced to start the process again with a new budget resolution in the House. Before the changes, the bill was projected to save about $150 billion over 10 years.
“We’ve got to wait for the CBO score to prove that you meet the reconciliation test,” said Rep. Greg Walden (R-Oreg.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
A Republican aide told Business Insider that Republicans expected positive results from the CBO, but were waiting for the report to be sure. “Based on the previous two scores, we believe we’ll hit our target deficit reduction number but we’re holding out of an abundance of caution,” the aide said.
If the House has to vote on the bill again, passage would not be a slam dunk. In the first vote, 20 Republicans joined every House Democrat in voting against the bill. The current version of the bill was specifically crafted to gain enough support from disparate Republican factions to pass. If the bill has to be changed to satisfy budget reconciliation requirements, the fragile balancing act may be upset and changes may cost too many Republican votes to pass the bill a second time.
The CBO report is expected next week.