Sen. Ron Johnson casts key vote in health care showdown
A Tuesday vote in the Senate will move forward plans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
All 48 Senate Democrats and two Republicans voted against the motion. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) cast the 50th "yes" vote, allowing Vice President Mike Pence to cast the tie-breaking vote.
“If we didn't proceed, the process would have ended and the mess that is Obamacare would have remained in place,” Sen. Johnson said after the vote.
That's why Sen. Johnson says voted for the motion, after a long talk on the floor with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky).
But Sen. Johnson and several other Republican Senators, including Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona), made it clear a yes Tuesday doesn't necessarily signal a "yes" vote on the final bill.
“I think it's alive and kicking,” said Mordecai Lee, a political science professor at the University of Milwaukee. “I'm not sure there's a guarantee it'll pass.”
Now the Senate will take up the health care bill passed by the House, but swap in their own language, by voting on a series of amendments. There are several proposals floating around and it's unclear what the final bill will look like.
Sen. Johnson says in order to get his vote, a final bill must lower premiums and revert back to traditional Medicaid.
“What you'll see an amendment out of me is end additional enrollment in Medicaid expansion, which again leaves everybody that took advantage of the program over the last four years, they'll still be grandfathered in,” Sen. Johnson said.
And though he voted with his party, Sen. Johnson hopes moving forward there is an effort at bipartisanship.
“I have been critical that we started our discussions saying we're going to do this only with Republican votes,” Sen. Johnson said. “I mean just politically, I don't think that makes a whole lot of sense.”
Lee says a final vote could come up quickly
“I wouldn't be surprised if by the end of next week or within two weeks that we see a final vote,” Lee said. “The key of course will be the amendments.”
Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) voted no. In a statement she said, “The people of Wisconsin did not send me to Washington to take people's health care away. We should be working together to make things better, not worse. Let's work to stabilize the market, make health care more affordable, and take on drug companies and rising prescription drug costs.