US Republican Senator from Ohio Rob Portman speaks to the press as US Republican Senator from West Virginia Shelley Moore Capito (L), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) and Republican Senator from Nebraska Deb Fisher (2nd R) look on at the Capitol in Washington,DC on January 20, 2015 hours before US President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union.   AFP PHOTO/NICHOLAS KAMM        (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

Rob Portman, and on his right, Shelley Moore Capito. Call them.

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Four Republican senators—Dean Heller (NV), Susan Collins (ME), Rand Paul (KY), and Ron Johnson (WI)—have announced they will vote against the procedural motion to proceed on the “Better Care Act,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s version of Trumpcare. One of those votes, Johnson’s is . . . let’s say “fluid.” He’s taken about four different positions in the last month and is frankly incoherent. Even after saying Monday night that he was a “no,” he’s telling CNN that he’s “not opposed to this, I just said I’m not a yes yet.”

Johnson aside, there are still three votes that could torpedo the bill today or tomorrow, and two of them (Heller and Collins) seem pretty locked in. That leaves McConnell in full arm-twisting mode to get the necessary 51 votes for the bill to advance to a floor debate.

GOP leaders said ultimately that even lawmakers who oppose the bill in its current form could be persuaded to allow the debate over the party’s long-sought Obamacare rollback to begin.

“I would hope … our members would at least let us get on it,” said Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), the No. 3 GOP leader. “Everybody wants to exert whatever leverage that they can, where they can get the most leverage, but I would expect we’d be able to get on the bill.”

“I think we’re going to be in a good place,” added Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas), the party’s chief vote counter. […]

Senators from Medicaid expansion states huddled on Monday evening, hoping to persuade McConnell to pour more money into Medicaid and opioid treatment, but budget hawks are eyeing an opportunity to pocket the savings and decrease the deficit.

That $188 billion McConnell has to play with in the Congressional Budget Office’s score of the bill is the crux there. McConnell probably counted on having that surplus to use to bribe the Medicaid senators—more funding to respond to the opioid crisis, maybe another “Klondike Kickback” type of tweak for Ohio and West Virginia, where Sens. Rob Portman and Shelley Moore Capito are under massive pressure to preserve Medicaid expansion.

All we need is 3 Republican senators to block Trumpcare. If you have a GOP senator, we need you to call their office at (202) 224-3121. Demand that they put their constituents above their party. After the call, tell us how the call went.


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