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Health Care: Four Make or Break Senators We’re Watching

Capito, Collins, Murkowski and Heller

Left to right: Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, Susan Collins, R-Maine, Dean Heller, R-Nev., and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va. (Photos by Tom Williams and Bill Clark, composite by Chris Hale/CQ Roll Call)
Left to right: Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, Susan Collins, R-Maine, Dean Heller, R-Nev., and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va. (Photos by Tom Williams and Bill Clark, composite by Chris Hale/CQ Roll Call)

UPDATE 2:28 p.m., July 25 | Sens. Shelly Moore Capito, R-W.Va. and Dean Heller, R-Nev., have both announced they plan to vote to proceed with the health care bill. Their ayes clear the 50 vote threshold required to proceed, but questions about the package as a whole remain with Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough’s Friday ruling that budget reconciliation rules would be violated in the bill’s current state.

With Sen. John McCain en route to cast a critical health care vote just one week after announcing a brain cancer diagnosis, here are four senators to watch and what they’ve said leading up to Tuesday’s vote:

Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.

UPDATE 2:19 p.m., July 25 | Sen. Shelly Moore Capito said she plans to vote to begin debate on the health care bill.

“Today, I will vote to begin debate to repeal and replace Obamacare,” Capito said in a statement. “As this process advances on the Senate floor, I will continue to make decisions that are in the best interest of West Virginians.”

July 18: Mitch McConnell’s Plan B on Health Care Appears Dead

“For months, I have expressed reservations about the direction of the bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. I cannot vote to repeal Obamacare without a replacement plan that addresses my concerns and the needs of West Virginians,” Capito said.

June 29: What Portman and Capito Want in Obamacare Repeal Debate

“As drafted, this bill will not ensure access to affordable health care in West Virginia, does not do enough to combat the opioid epidemic that is devastating my state, cuts traditional Medicaid too deeply, and harms rural health care providers,” Capito said. 

Dean Heller, R-Nev.

UPDATE 2:02 p.m., July 25 | Sen. Dean Heller announced he plans to vote in favor of the motion to proceed on the health care bill, but not the final package if the bill does not improve for his home state.

“Obamacare isn’t the answer, but doing nothing to try to solve the problems it has created isn’t the answer either,” Heller said in a statement. “If the final product isn’t improved for the state of Nevada, then I will not vote for it; if it is improved, I will support it.”

June 23: Heller ‘Will Not Support’ Draft Senate GOP Health Bill

“This bill that’s currently in front of the United States Senate is not the answer. It’s simply not the answer. In this form, I will not support it,” Heller said.

June 9: Senate Moderates Say They Are Closer on Health Care

On lowering Medicaid growth rate: “I just don’t want to do worse than what the House did. And there’s a push to bring it below the House, so that’s an issue,” Heller said.

Susan Collins, R-Maine

UPDATE 2:39 p.m., July 25 | Sen. Susan Collins voted no on the motion to proceed on the health care bill.

July 17: McCain Absence Gives GOP More Time to Win — Or Lose — Health Care Votes

“This bill would make sweeping and deep cuts in the Medicaid program, which has been a safety net program on the books for more than 50 years. It would also jeopardize the very existence of our rural hospitals and our nursing homes, which not only provide exceptional care to people in rural America, but also are major employers in the small communities in which they are located,” Collins said.

June 27: Senate Republicans Delay Vote on Health Care Bill

“Tweaking isn’t going to work. From my perspective there would have to be a major overhaul of the bill,” Collins said. “Tinkering around the edges is not going to be sufficient to win my support.”

Collins along with Louisiana Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy also proposed her own replacement plan:

March 28: The Search for Intelligent Bipartisanship on Health Care

January 23: States Could Keep Obamacare Under Cassidy-Collins Replacement

Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska

UPDATE 2:39 p.m., July 25 | Sen. Lisa Murkowski voted no on the motion to proceed on the health care bill.

July 20: Conservatives Plot Payback for Obamacare Repeal Failure

“My whole focus is just really to the concerns of the people that I represent back home. And that’s who I answer to,” Murkowski said. “Don’t think that this dies or we don’t continue working on this. This problem doesn’t go away.”

June 21: Rural Areas Brace for Health Care Bill Impact

“For us in Alaska we’re pretty much the definition of rural, so we’re trying to highlight the issues that impact us and why so much of what we see in the House-passed bill is not helpful for us,” Murkowski said.


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