>> We all know this is likely to be a very long night.>> With the final vote fast approaching, Republican ambitions to repeal Obamacare keep shrinking with no guarantee of success. I'm Andy Sullivan in Washington where Republicans in the Senate have been struggling to come up with a barebones plan that would allow them to keep alive their hopes of rolling back President Obama's Affordable Care Act.
The idea being that if they pass anything out of the Senate, they can then get together with the House of Representatives and come up with something that President Trump could then sign into law. But with the final vote possible as soon as Thursday night, many lawmakers still don't know what exactly they will be voting on.
>> It's a government takeover.>> Republicans have vowed for seven years to get rid of Obamacare, and they've passed legislation that would do just that out of the House of Representatives. But they've run into a serious problem in the Senate, they simply don't have the votes. Their Obamacare replacement bill and a simple repeal effort both coming up short this week.
Now they're hammering out a bill that would leave most of Obamacare intact. Texas Senator John Cornyn saying theya re preparing to vote on a bill that would get rid of the law's requirement that people buy insurance and scale back its mandate that large businesses provide coverage as well.
Insurance companies saying the so-called skinny repeal could drive up costs for consumers. Non-partisan analysts saying it would leave 16 million more Americans without health coverage.>> The skinny bill as policy is a disaster. The skinny bill as a replacement for Obamacare is a fraud.>> Senator Lindsey Graham and several Republicans saying they won't vote for skinny repeal unless they get a chance to change it later.
>> Not only do we not replace Obamacare, we politically own the collapse of healthcare. I'd rather get out of the way and let it collapse than have a half-assed approach where it is now our problem.>> Tensions spilling over. Alaska's Senator Lisa Murkowski cancelling a confirmation hearing for several Trump administration nominees, after reports that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke threatened to punish her for voting against the repeal effort.
Republicans are planning a barrage of votes on Thursday night, ending with a final yes or no vote on whatever they've got at that point. It's safe to say this isn't the textbook way to come up with legislation that affects one-sixth of the world's largest economy. Nobody seems to know what they've got at this point or how it would play out in the real world.
The calculation is purely political. Can Republicans come up with the 50 votes they need to get something passed out of the Senate? Even that is up in the air.