Obamacare repeal bill dealt yet another possibly fatal blow by Senate parliamentarian

Obamacare repeal bill dealt yet another possibly fatal blow by Senate parliamentarian
Planned Parenthood funding may have to be included in the Senate Republican health care bill.
Source: Saul Loeb/Getty Images
Planned Parenthood funding may have to be included in the Senate Republican health care bill.
Source: Saul Loeb/Getty Images

The Senate Republican health care plan is once again in major trouble, after the Senate parliamentarian determined that major parts of the bill will require 60 votes to pass — not the 50 votes Republicans are currently trying to cobble together.

Sections of the bill that would require 60 votes include provisions that defund Planned Parenthood as well as ban the use of tax credits on plans that cover abortion.

That means Republicans would either have to do the impossible and get 60 votes to keep the provisions in the bill. Or, they must remove the provisions, forcing Republicans to vote for a bill that would fund abortion procedures and incense their conservative base.

Currently, Senate Republicans are trying to pass the bill under a process called “budget reconciliation.” Using this process, the bill would not be subject to rules that require 60 votes in order to advance legislation to debate.

But in order to use budget reconciliation, the bill must adhere to the Byrd Rule, which stipulates that any legislation being considered through budget reconciliation cannot include “extraneous matters.” That means anything that isn’t strictly budget-related cannot be included.

And the Senate parliamentarian found many of the provisions included in the Better Care Reconciliation Act that Republicans are debating to be in violation of the Byrd Rule.

“The parliamentarian has advised that abortion restrictions on the premium tax credit and the small business tax credit, and the language defunding Planned Parenthood, violate the Byrd Rule,” the parliamentarian wrote in a memo to the Senate Budget Committee.

Keeping these provisions in the bill would mean that in order for it to pass, Republicans would need to convince a number of Democrats to support the legislation — which the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projected will cause 22 million people to lose their insurance and cause premiums to skyrocket.

And since Republicans currently don’t have enough votes among their own ranks to advance the bill, that makes the chances this bill can pass next week even slimmer than they already were.