Health Care

Sen. Johnson up in the air about voting to approve health care bill

Chad Pergram

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) is now up in the air about voting to proceed to the health care bill.

This casts doubts as to whether the Republican leadership can ever get the measure to the floor. 

Johnson opposed the original Senate Republican health care bill in June. Then Johnson declared last week he wouldn’t block the revamped bill from coming to the floor and would vote yes on the “motion to proceed” to start debate.

But Johnson is having second thoughts about voting yes now. 

“I was strongly in favor before reading the bill,” said Johnson. Johnson adds that remarks by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to other GOP senators which hinted some Medicaid cuts may never happen “puts (the bill) in jeopardy.”

Johnson says he’s now confirmed those remarks by McConnell.

“Last week I was strongly urging people to support the motion to proceed. I’m not doing that right now,” said Johnson.

Johnson says he’s not pleased with McConnell right now – which is why his vote is up in the air.

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“It’s a real breach of trust, those types of comments,” said Johnson. 

McConnell faces a math problem. With the absence of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), McConnell only has 51 senators present. Two are hard noes on the motion to proceed: Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Rand Paul (R-KY). That takes McConnell to a maximum of 49 yeas. 48 if Johnson is now in fact a no.

A Johnson nay could be a fatal blow to ever starting debate on the measure. 

And McConnell needs McCain here soon..and needs him to vote yes on the motion to proceed.

Fox has learned that there will the Senate Republican leadership will know more at the end of the week about McCain’s condition and if he can return next week. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) spoke to McCain..who says he’s ready to come back now.

“After about a week, his family will ready for him to come back too,” said Graham. “He may not be bored yet, but give him another 12 hours.”

The issue facing McCain is that he can’t fly pending his recovery following surgery for a blood clot.

One Republican Senator told Fox it was possible McCain may not be able to travel until August.

It is unclear whether the delay on health care hurts or helps the cause.

One camp suggests it helps because it gives McConnell more time to cut a deal. Another camp says that the problems the GOP head before are growing the longer the health care bill sits out there.

“There’s a reason why McConnell wanted to vote this week,” said one Republican senator. “He wanted to strike fast.”

Still, it was doubtful McConnell had the votes to proceed, let alone pass the bill.

“McCain gave McConnell an out. A delay. He didn’t have to vote this week. This just drags it out,” said one Republican senator who asked that they not be identified.