Two new Republican senators announced their opposition to the GOP health care bill Monday night, leaving the party leadership in the Senate short of votes to bring the legislation to the floor for a vote.
In a pair of identical tweets, Sens. Jerry Moran of Kansas and Mike Lee of Utah announced they would vote against a procedural measure needed to advance the health care bill to the floor for consideration.
“We must now start fresh with an open legislative process,” Moran urged in a written statement.
Lee and Moran’s simultaneous announcements delivered a one-two punch to the bill, which would have required the support of at least 50 of the Senate’s 52 Republicans. Two other Republicans, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Susan Collins (R-Me.) had already announced their opposition. Now with Lee and Moran’s declaration, the bill appears to be dead on arrival.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer was quick to comment on the bill’s apparent body blow, saying in a statement, “This second failure of Trumpcare is proof positive that the core of this bill is unworkable.”
McConnell had previously delayed the vote until the return of Sen. John McCain of Arizona, following his surgery to remove a blood clot. But the opposition from Moran and Lee renders it irrelevant for the bill's future whether McCain is present in the chamber.
Earlier Monday, a third Republican senator had indicated his support for the procedural vote was also at risk.
Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, told reporters that he was upset over comments Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reportedly made to some moderate Republican senators last week in his office following the release of the revised health care draft.
In a meeting with senators from Medicaid expansion states, McConnell reportedly told them that the cuts to Medicaid would likely never happen.
The Washington Post first reported McConnell's comments last week.
"I did find the story about leader McConnell's comments about Medicaid reforms just 'too far in the future, probably never be enacted' troubling," Johnson told ABC News. "That may put the motion to proceed vote in jeopardy."
In a statement, McConnell said, "I prefer to speak for myself, and my view is that the Medicaid per capita cap with a responsible growth rate that is sustainable for taxpayers is the most important long-term reform in the bill. That is why it has been in each draft we have released."
Johnson was no fan of the original health care draft and cautioned Senate leaders to hold off on voting last month.
But in recent days, Johnson had warmed up to the bill, and said he was on board with the key vote that would have opened up the bill for debate on the Senate floor.
"I was strongly for motion to proceed," Johnson said. "After I read those [McConnell] comments again, I found those rather troubling."