Now that AHCA has passed the house, an even bigger uphill battle awaits the law: the U.S. Senate.
Republicans hold a slim 2-seat majority in the Senate, and can afford to lose exactly that many and still pass the law through reconciliation (Vice President Pence can cast a tie-breaker).
The first go-around on this, we tracked Senators’ statements and found only thirty eight Republicans as likely yes votes. Most of their objections centered on medicaid coverage and pre-existing conditions. Here’s a short list of who to watch in the weeks ahead:
1- Susan Collins (Maine) Collins is the most moderate member of the Republican conference, and has already opposed two of President Trump’s Cabinet picks. She voiced very strong objections to the initial AHCA bill, and current fixes aren’t likely, in our opinion, to sway her.
2- Rand Paul (Kentucky) Paul eviscerated the earlier bill and played a fun social media hunt of the thing when it was still being thrown together. He has pushed his own plan and argued the first-run of this didn’t go far enough to fix what he saw wrong with ACA. While not as likely a no in my opinion as Collins, if things haven’t changed enough to his liking, he’s probably Republican nay #2.
3- Dean Heller (Nevada) Heller came out against the original act and is the only Senate Republican facing re-election in a state that voted for Hillary Clinton. If he’s thinking ahead to 2018 and fears a legitimate backlash, he could be the deciding vote.
Additional Senators to eyeball:
Ohio’s Rob Portman and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski Neither face any danger from voter backlash at the moment (they were just re-elected easily last year), but both voiced serious objections to the initial AHCA and represent part of the more moderate wing of the Republican Senate. Slightly less moderate, but hailing from a blue state and vocally objecting to the original bill, is Colorado Senator Cory Gardner. Gardner faces voters in a Presidential year, 2020, and if the current midterm environment worsens for the Party, it won’t take much for him to be think about his own re-election. More immediately facing the voters is Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, who also came out against the original bill. He is the only Republican Senator facing re-election next year in a state that narrowly went for Donald Trump.