The Senate was poised late Thursday to launch into a marathon “vote-a-rama” on health care as part of Republican leaders’ bid to pass some version of an ObamaCare repeal amid intense disagreements inside the party. 

A deal has proved elusive, and two major Republican proposals already have failed. The final spree of amendment votes could drift into the wee hours of the night — and make clear whether the GOP-controlled Congress has any path for passing even a pared-down repeal measure. 

Anticipating an airtight vote, Vice President Pence is expected to be on Capitol Hill after midnight, in case he’s needed to break a tie — as he was earlier this week. 

At this point, it’s unclear what the final bill might look like, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been playing his cards close to the vest.

But the proposal could be what’s been dubbed the “skinny” repeal, where just a few elements of ObamaCare, like the individual and employer mandates and the taxes on medical device makers, are reversed.

President Trump, who has been pushing Senate Republicans to pass some sort of health care legislation, tweeted encouragement to senators Thursday morning.

“Come on Republican Senators, you can do it on Healthcare,” Trump said. “After 7 years, this is your chance to shine! Don’t let the American people down!”

During Thursday’s press briefing, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders didn’t comment specifically on the “skinny” repeal, saying they hadn’t reviewed its details yet.

“We got to see what they get to tonight,” Sanders said. “We haven’t seen a final piece of legislation. We’re continuing to work with the Senate to make sure we get the best health care we can.”

Sanders also said that when it comes to talking about the efforts to repeal and replace, “we actually like the term ‘freedom bill’ a lot better, because we think it addresses what this bill actually is.”

Republicans have 52 seats in the Senate. McConnell can lose only two Republican votes if all Democrats vote against the effort and Pence breaks a tie.


Earlier Thursday, Montana Republican Sen. Steve Daines offered a “single payer” health care amendment in order to get some Democrats on the record in support of the government-run health care system liberals like Sen. Bernie Sanders support.

“I do not support a single-payer system, but I believe Americans deserve to see us debate different ideas, which is why I am bringing forward this amendment,” Daines said. “It’s time for every senator to go on the record on whether or not they support a single-payer healthcare system.”

The amendment failed 57-0. No Democrats voted for it — 43 of them voted “present.”

Meanwhile, as the Senate planned to vote again on health care, an Alaska news outlet reported Thursday that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke called both of the state’s Republican senators, Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, to warn that the state could suffer if they don’t vote for health care legislation.

“I’m not going to go into the details, but I fear that the strong economic growth, pro-energy, pro-mining, pro-jobs and personnel from Alaska who are part of those policies are going to stop,” Sullivan told the paper.

On Wednesday, Trump singled out Murkowski for her votes opposing the health care measures.

“Senator @lisamurkowski of the Great State of Alaska really let the Republicans, and our country, down yesterday,” Trump tweeted. “Too bad!”

Senate Republicans drafted their first repeal measure of this session several months ago. But the Senate has struggled to pass any measure that repeals or replaces ObamaCare, even as Republicans have repeatedly watered down legislation to try to win over its divided caucus.

On Wednesday, Republicans faced its latest setback, as a “straight repeal” plan to repeal the bulk of ObamaCare and give lawmakers a two-year window to replace it failed on a Senate vote.

But across the Capitol, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy told lawmakers to be prepared to stay in town longer in case the Senate passes. The House, which passed a repeal bill earlier this year, is slated to start the August recess Friday afternoon.

“While last votes are currently scheduled to take place tomorrow, members are advised that—pending Senate action on healthcare—the House schedule is subject to change,” McCarthy said. “All members should remain flexible in their travel plans over the next few days.”

Fox News’ Chad Pergram contributed to this report.

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