Return to Transcripts main page
Senate To Vote Soon On Skinny Repeal; ObamaCare Repeal Fails in U.S. Senate. Aired 12mn-1a ET
Aired July 28, 2017 - 00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[00:00:01] RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: They said before we're going have two different votes here. So, don't get too focused on the first vote. That would be a vote that the Democrats will offer up to send the bill back to a committee that will certainly be voted down. Then we'll have the actual vote on what we're calling the skinny repeal. And that's when we're going to finally find out whether or not the Republicans have enough votes. And Don, as we know the vise-president is already in the building. So that means that the vote will be closed no matter what.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: All right, thank you Ryan Nobles, I appreciate that on with everyone. It's top of the hour. You're watching CNN tonight. I'm Don Lemon. I want to bring in now CNN's Dana Bash, Democratic Strategist Jonathan Tasini, CNN Political Commentators Margaret Hoover and Scott Jennings and also CNN contributor Jason Kander. So here we are the moment of wrecking. What do you know about how this is going down or going to go down Dana?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, our Ted Barret who's our self Senate producer says that with the expectation as -- first there will be a vote that the Democrats will get which is going to be to send all of these back to the committees, which is not going to pass because it's a Democratic measure and it will probably party line. And that is obviously just to make a point, the point being and from their perspective that this was not going the right way.
LEMON: It's John McCain right on his cell phone. And this is live outside of his office. And he has been very -- he is critical when it comes to this.
BASH: Right. So actually, let me move on to why John McCain is important on this particular -- I'm trying to see if he was going to say anything on this particular measure. And the answer because, you know, with no reporting for hours now the question had been whether or not Republicans like John McCain, Lindsey Graham others who do not like this skinny bill at all.
They say its bad policy. It would be bad if it become the law that they absolutely do not want it to become the law. So what they have been looking for is an assurance from the house speaker that this would go to was under the conference so that the House and Senate would come together to find a compromise that is not this. And then ultimately if they can do that send that to the president.
The initial statement that the house speaker put out was not sufficient for a lot of these guys. So because of that Lindsey Graham, John McCain and a few others I think it was five senators who've got on a conference call on speaker phone with the house speaker earlier tonight. And they felt better about it.
So Senator Graham for example I spoke to him this evening. He says he's in. He's going to vote for this even though he thinks its terrible policy because he has an assurance that this will not be the law of the land, that the House will bring it to conference, that the house speaker will bring it to conference.
John McCain has not yet said. He is a hold out. And, you know, at this point every single vote counts. It is a real nail biter to see how he will go and not just him, other Republicans as well who have been on defense about this.
LEMON: You missed a call. I think you finally want to get back to that.
BASH: I know I saw that.
LEMON: My eyebrows went up they would say. What do you make of what --
LEMON: -- kind of what you heard from Ryan Nobles and you saw Senator John McCain get on the elevator. He didn't say anything.
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. I think Republicans from what I can tell feel like they have a really strong chance to pass this tonight. But we have to remember procedurally nothing happens in the morning. If this passes tonight tomorrow morning Obamacare is still the law because this has to go to a conference. And this is sort of this moving the process along. What goes into the conference will be these two bills that are different.
And what comes out could be much different than what we're seeing out of either chamber individually. So there's a lot of focus on the CBO tonight. I think that's to some degree irrelevant because this isn't going to be the final law. And so for people who are focused on that I wouldn't -- I would almost throw that out because the conference committee is going to come up with things that have different details and different provisions.
LEMON: But still Jen it is one more step in the process of either repealing, you know, the major healthcare in this country or and replacing it or not, right. And so it's and again these all could happen at any moment. We are live now and we just saw John McCain go in. But he said he is not -- this won't be the law on the land now. But certainly they loose control of it once it leaves the Senate. What will --
BASH: They do.
JENNINGS: No, no, no, because there are senators in the conference committee. So there is -- they still have their people in the room.
BASH: Well, but they have to point --
BASH: -- conference and not --
MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: -- this go straight to the House --
BASH: Although given the way that the House of Representatives work these days. Even if the house speaker wanted to just send this to the House I think getting the votes for that --
JONATHAN TASINI, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: The concern was very --
BASH: Even though he gave the assurances to the senators he wouldn't try.
TASINI: The concern was that basically they would take the skinny repeal to Senate to the White House and that there would be no actual conference can be which they can do. And anybody who trust Paul Ryan to do what he claim he's going to do is I've got some, you know, swamping in the Florida relates (ph) to sell them.
[00:05:07] HOOVER: Just remember though, there's a lot of people who have very short term memory in terms of bash and manic the process was when the Affordable Care Act was passed. If you guys remember I mean I know you all remember. But like let us also just remember that when Nancy Pelosi passed the bill through the House of Representative --
HOOVER: -- I'm sure that they were 2000 page that the people had less than 24 hours or 72 hours to read it. We have to pass it in order for you to figure out what's in the bill, right.
This is what happened and I'm testifying it. Well, no, hold on there is -- I understand there are a lot differences and I'm not testifying that process. But this is what happens when you're trying to reform.
TASINI: No. But the major difference was there were hot. There are many, many hearings. It was very fleshed out. In here you had a process where a bill that nobody had read when there are no hearing, zero hearings by the Republican leadership where as, you know, we've watched all these congressional process.
Usually what happens is somebody offers a bill and they says, OK, let's dispense with the reading. They had to read the entire bill whether it was introduced about two hours ago because there was no physical copies in the hands of everybody. That's an embarrassment. HOOVER: And at least it was in 2000 pages. And at least they can read it. OK. And then the slim down the version and where into these reforming specific elements that were -- I mean they were all turning out or is that the individual mandate. We're talking about Medicare expansion. We're talking about the things that we're trying (INAUDIBLE) are components that we've all been trying in relation. There's nothing we can tell right now is new in.
LEMON: I want to get Jason Kander. Jason, we don't forget about you. Jason what's in that are you are trying to get in there?
JASON KANDOR, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, look they've had seven years to work on this. And what this all comes down to is a couple of things. One, they have no idea what they want to do. They don't have a better idea that what exist right now. President Obama when he left office said, there's some things that you can do to make Obamacare better.
But they're not interested in doing that. They're interested I guess in political vengeance, taking it out instead on the American people. What is really happening here and what I think is so sick about this is, these folks know exactly what -- they know what they're doing is wrong.
You know that feeling you had maybe when you were in middle school or high school and you're about to make a decision that you knew your parents were going to be mad at you. And you were like, I'm going to make it really fast before I change my mind. That's what's happening here. They know what they're doing is wrong. But it doesn't affect them. It affects all of us. And then I just think, I think it's really disappointing.
LEMON: Do we have Karine Jean-Pierre? Is Karine there?
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes.
LEMON: Go Karine. Sorry.
JEAN-PIERRE: Hey Don.
LEMON: Hi, how are you? We won't forget about you as well.
JEAN-PIERRE: Yes. So I just wanted to add. Good, absolutely thanks.
LEMON: A very passionate table again, I just want to remind everyone we're waiting for this vote to happen on the senate floor. It's going to happen at any moment on the skinny repeal of Obamacare. Go ahead.
JEAN-PIERRE: No. I just wanted to say Don, as somebody who was in the White House in the Obama Administration the fist two years and was around for the Affordable Care Act. It is not the same. What the Republicans are doing are -- it's completely abnormal, unusual. We had hearings. We had town halls. There were, oh, well over a hundred amendments that were presented by the Republicans. That was put in to ACA.
So this is not the same. You cannot compare it at all. And we -- and I remember President Obama reaching to Republicans wanting to make to say bipartisan effort when he talked about healthcare and they refused. They absolutely refused. What we're seeing now is this bill is being introduced in the dead of night without Republicans themselves knowing what's going on and what's happening.
And you have Republicans running away from it. All day long we've been hearing Republicans saying, oh, it has to be in, it has to go into conference or they want this bill because they want this bill to go into law. So this is what's happening now. And we're talking about people's lives. People will die if we repeal.
LEMON: And Scott and Margaret are saving issue with that one.
JENNINGS: Look here is a thing. There are two choices. You can move this process along into a conference committee and try to make something better out of it which is what most Republicans wanted to do. Or we can stop the process tonight and kill the Republican dream, the seven year dream of repealing and replacing Obamacare. That is not an option grassroots conservatives.
TASINI: No. But that's not -- oh, well that maybe true for grassroots conservatives who actually don't care about actually people having healthcare coverage.
JENNING: Nobody likes this bill.
TASINI: I think what people want to do actually is it would what they've said is that the third option which is return to regular order. And every single Democrat that stood in the -- on the Senate floor today said, let's go back to the committees, let's have hearings, let's work in a bipartisan way to try to fix the Affordable Care.
Every single Democrat including my self has said, the Affordable Care Act is not perfect. It needs to be improved. But the way you improve it is not by throwing 60 million people off. It's not by raising premiums another 20 percent. It's by going back and actually having -- trying to figure out.
LEMON: -- that's the skinny part of it, the whole scale.
JENNINGS: Yes. The whole one would be much more.
LEMON: That's right. But again to everyone, everyone made this point no one likes this bill. And that we could -- not even the people who were passing it like the bill because they're saying they don't want it to become --
TASINI: No one doubt that there will be people be thrown off. In some Republican version , people will lose healthcare. And that is incredibly it's sad that this is the way you wanted the healthcare --
[00:10:08] HOOVER: No, I -- no, I -- first of all, I take so much issue with the notion that, yes, Republicans aren't agreeing on this with this. And I agree, Republican should have consolidated around a central unified vision after seven years when they finally got the vote. But the idea that they didn't no what to do is simply false.
The problem is that, there are different factions, very strong faction within the start of Senator Wright or from the right side aisle. They have very different ideas issues. And they can't agree on what that is. Well, the basic premises of what a Republican or Senator Wright market base to healthcare reform would do are there. The principles are there. The idea is expanding coverage, lowering premiums, frankly improving health outcomes for Americans, reforming the Medicaid process. So, all of these things of Obamacare has been through Medicaid. I'm not --
LEMON: How all of this happened and because here we are no matter, how many people like and how many people don't like it. Is it going to pass, is it not going to pass. We've heard Timothy Duckworth a Democratic from Illinois saying she believes they do have the vote. She's not happy about it. So, as this process moves along Dana and we're live. We're going to watch the vote happen any moment now. Take us through this. How is this going to happen again?
BASH: OK. So, assuming that it's not, you know, full stop gone, if this fails tonight, like what Scott was saying. Then that is the end of the dream that Republican have had to repeal Obamacare at least for the time being assuming that does not happen and it does pass. Then, there's going to be even more towing and throwing. And a lot of hard work that is going to be going on inside this conference assuming that the conference does happened between key members of there Republican Party and the House, key members to Republican Party and the Senate.
And good luck finding a solution and finding compromise among those two factions in a way that they almost been doing in House and they definitely didn't do in the Senate because this is just -- this is a shell. This is a shell to keep the process going what they do in the Senate.
So, the answer to your question is just because this is going now, doesn't mean that they're going to be able to figure it out. There are alternate ideas. There are like Margaret was talking about. There are people like Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy from Louisiana, and others who are thinking about a completely different approach not to use the kind of platform of Obamacare and try to put -- and try to fix from that perspective around the edges. But give a much more Republican philosophical approach like black ranting to the state.
So that's a big thing they're working on trying to get the governors involved. Who knows if that's going to happen but it might something like that a game changer that is going to be the only way to get these two sides to figure a way to compromise.
LEMON: So, even with this and I think Scott said this, it's not done deal. BASH: Totally not, not even close.
LEMON: Not even close.
BASH: They are just trying to -- they are just trying to keep -- forgive me, the patient alive.
TASINI: I want to make two points. So, and the second one will be base on what Margaret said about being market, market base. So, first point and I don't want this I think the sketch ignored not talked about in T.V. I think and I want to say it in to the T.V. that all the credit to this and the reason we here potentially about defeating this bill that will put millions of people off health insurance is a credit to the millions of people, the hundreds of thousands of activist who were out on the streets, who got arrested, who made phone calls, who wrote letters, who went to town halls.
And it's to you, you're the ones the heroes of this fight not necessarily the senators of the Democratic Party frankly, but the people, the activist who hit streets and that's why we are this point. But what Margaret said on the market based issue is just really, really important. That's the problem.
We can not solve health care in this country thinking that this can be based on a market solution. We need to move and this is something that many us have been passionate about for the last 20 years, two universal health care system to a single payer, Medicare for all system like every other normal country in the world. And I don't even want to go.
Let's not talk about Europe. Look at Australia which is won by a center right government. They have a single payer system in their health care cost. The amount of money they spent on their health care GDP is half of what the United States spent. What we have to go in terms of solutions, and this is the encouraging thing to me, Don. It may not happen next year, but the support for single payer for universal health care has never been more intense and the --
LEMON: And at this point is not -- that's not happening at this point. I need to talk about --
TASINI: And it's not about just Bernie Sanders.
HOOVER: Bernie Sanders is not here.
LEMON: Yes. And I need to talk about what's happening now.
TASINI: I know.
LEMON: -- Janson Kander. Jason, I heard you groaning when you heard Dana talk about --
KANDER: I didn't mean to.
[00:15:00] BASH: What -- I'm sorry. I went through the best --
KANDER: -- I'm sorry. It is -- it just felt real to me. I apologize.
LEMON: So, what do you take issue in?
KANDER: I didn't. I just -- look, I don't take issue with anything out in the fact. But I just think that unfortunately, look, when Dana said that she was thinking like at that time she was thinking, ah, that's a little too close to home, which is she is right to think. The problems, there's a lot of Republican senators right now who don't seem to understand that this is real. That this is going to affect real people's lives.
And what bothers me is so much -- well, so many things that bother about this. But for years when they knew there was adult supervision. President Obama in the Oval Office, they would pass over and over again a repeal knowing that it will never happen.
And now, now that -- for in many ways, there is no adult supervision at the end of that of that, right. Now, they are having cold feet. And the thing about that is instead of saying, oh, I shouldn't be having cold feet. They should look themselves in the mirror and realize that that's human emotion that they're having and having cold feet because this is a terrible idea and they know it, and they should trust that instinct.
BASH: But I'm not for sure if its cold feet or it's just that they don't know how to actually move their feet to get to the point where and into the place where they have --
KANDER: I like to believe its humanity.
BASH: Well, yes, but I mean I just talking about the system of pure policy but I think Steven Moore is with us.
LEMON: -- and we'll get Steven.
LEMON: Karine what do you want to say quickly.
JEAN-PIERRE: Yes. I just wanted to say the other thing too is this bill is just unpopular where -- the health the Republicans House bill is unpopular. The Senate House bill was unpopular. I mean their constituents don't want this bill. And the reason why is because it's not a health care bill. When you're taking people health care away whether it's 16 million people or 32 million people, it's not a health care bill. And let's not forget that today, there were 10 governors who came out bipartisan and said they did not want the skinny repeal.
And it's one of those things were Heller and Portman, they need to listen. They need to listen to their governors. They -- it's such completely insane what's happening.
LEMON: Hold on. Steven Moore, are you still there?
STEPHEN MOORE, CNN SENIOR ECONOMICS ANALYST: Can you see me Don?
LEMON: Yes. I can see you. Can you see me now? Dana Bash is here and Dana has some questions for you.
BASH: Well, I just have question just because, you know, you know all this better than anybody on this policy of where the Republicans actually can go to come together. Is there an answer? I mean, let's just they get to conference.
BASH: How are they going to get themselves out of that in a way that they fairly did in the House and they didn't in the Senate? What do you think?
MOORE: Well, Dana, you did a great job of explaining where we are in this process. Let's assume for a moment this bill passes the skinny bill. Then we do of all this conference. By the way, you're right. There's no way that this skinny bill would ever pass the House. So, it's irrelevant even if they brought it up for a vote. There are at least 50 conservatives in the House would vote against it.
So, you are going to see a conference. And the big question, Dana, is can Republicans come up with something that gets 50 votes --
BASH: Can they?
MOORE: -- because yes. Well, look, they have to.
BASH: Or you have seen in the House. I think that's might even be a harder thing.
MOORE: I think they have to for two reasons. I mean, one is I just think politically failure is not an option here. They have to deliver or else they're going to get decimated in the elections in 2018.
BASH: What is the answer?
MOORE: They might loss if they pass some thing. But I guarantee you if they don't have something they will lose. But I want to go back to this point, the gentlemen just made, finally we have other liberal who was saying, you know, really what we want is want to single payer government system.
TASINI: Yes. You know why?
MOORE: No, really. I mean it's really --
TASINI: But you know why Stephen, because it's only --
TASINI: It's only economics same thing to do.
MOORE: Yes exactly. It works so well. I mean look how well has worked that other (ph) administration, right? I mean, you ever run system there and people dying in the hospital. I mean is that what we want for a health care system. Everybody's going to come to a vote --
MOORE: -- lousy care.
TASINI: Well, what -- if I can -- can I response?
MOORE: Yes sir.
TASINI: The reason I argue for that is that the only economically same thing to do.
TASINI: And it's not just me saying this. It's Warren Buffett saying it. Its harder business to review saying it --
HOOVER: You going to put all the capitalist.
MOORE: Why do people -- can I ask a question. Why do people when they get sick in Canada comes in Unites States for --
TASINI: Well, that's a lot of -- I can't use the word.
MOORE: They do.
MOORE: No, it's not. They do.
TASINI: I tell you what Stephen.
TASINI: I talked to many Canadians and every single Canadian if they say, look, our systems are not perfect but if you say, would you like the U.S. system. Would you like to pay the premiums and co-piece? Not a single Canadian and I live in Australia --
MOORE: They like the Canadian system until they got sick. It's only when they get sick, they don't like it.
[00:20:00] LEMON: -- going to make one bit a dime difference --
LEMON: You guys want to -- (CROSSTALK)
LEMON: There's an important line here. This is argue during the election and did -- honestly --
DANA: Bernie Sander did not get the nomination.
TASINI: This is not about -- all right. I'm just going to say 15 seconds then I'll stop with that for now. After 15 seconds, it is advance single payer and the support for among the people have advance dramatically faster that I've seen in the last 20 years. And I'm just telling you that this going to come because we will have no choice.
LEMON: OK. Go ahead Jason.
KANDER: I was just going to say, the point here is that at least, you know, Stephen was saying an honest Liberal. Yes. What we're saying is here's what we would do, and you got the Republicans in control of everything right now. And they're saying let's go to conference to so we can figure out what to do.
JENNINGS: You did say that last year and you're not in the Senate voting on this tonight. That's the point. That is the point. This was litigated in the election. If Obamacare, if people really wanted it, they wouldn't have never given Republicans control of the government and yet they did.
HOOVER: One third of the American health care system --
JENNINGS: And 17 percent of them think this is good idea.
HOOVER: You know what, if all us voted on the polls, in the flash poll in any given moment, nothing will get done. I mean, Democrats --
HOOVER: -- absolutely follow the bill and they have the --
HOOVER: -- and Republicans need to have the courage of convection tonight.
LEMON: Yes. And listen, we're going to back to Capitol Hill. Let's go back to Capitol Hill now just from the show you give a live shot there. They are about to vote on this skinny repeal of Obamacare and as soon as it happens, we'll bring it to you live. We're not going to miss any of it.
Also, we have correspondent camp out there. We also saw John McCain just moment ago. As I understand, he is on the Senate floor. I think he had a little chat with Chuck Schumer. I'm not sure what that means. He could be the deciding vote here. We'll back right after a very quick break. Don't go anywhere.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [00:25:32] LEMON: And we're back now. We give you live picture of the Senate floor where they're abut to vote on this repealing of the skinny repeal of Obamacare. Also joining me now is CNN's Political Correspondent Dana Bash. She is with me. She's going to help us get through the next couple of hours here as they vote on this Dana because it's going to happen at any moment now.
Republicans this is the last of its attempt really to roll back Obamacare. But you said even and we'll get to our Ryan Noble in just a moment. But even at this point if this does pass it's still just the beginning of it. They've got a long way to go.
BASH: Absolutely, and the thing to keep in mind is that it's no as though there is going to be this miraculous consensus although anything is possible. But remember the Republicans have been struggling with what to do about how to replace Obamacare without angering the Republican Governors who have money from this Medicaid expansion under Obamacare who have given it people who needed it in their states who don't want to give that up.
And balancing that with conservatives who say, wait a minute we campaigned for years on repealing Obamacare and that includes getting rid of big Washington entitlement, meaning Medicaid expansion. Not to mention balancing all of that against the fact that many people's constituents even in Red States liked the idea that they can't be ban from getting coverage if they have a preexisting condition. They like the idea of lots of things in here.
But at the same time they understand that premiums are going up and things have to be fixed. It is so incredibly complicated. I mean almost was like a joke. Oh, really the new healthcare is complicated.
LEMON: It is hard, right.
BASH: Everybody did and now it is coming to pass. So that's a long way of saying, yes, if they are successful it will be a very big deal. But it is not even close to the end of the road for them.
LEMON: So where are we in this process as we look at the Senate floor now because as you have explained it's going to be two votes, one by the Democrat to send it to committee. And I think that's what's happening now. You said that one is not going to pass because this is a Republican majority.
BASH: And it's a Republican majority. And this is the Democrats with the sort of their big, their big vote message sending vote which the minority does on both sides of the capitol whenever they get a chance not that they have the votes to do it. But they want to send the message and get people on record.
And in this particular case what the Democrats going to get Republicans on record on from their perspective is that the process has been really not good. And that they haven't been proper committee hearings, they haven't been, you know, they haven't gone through the process that it should have. So this is a vote to send it back to committee. But, you know, the bottom line is that it's not going to pass.
LEMON: Yes. OK.
BASH: And then the big vote after that.
LEMON: All right standby Dana, I want to get to CNN's Ryan Noble live for us on Capitol Hill. So Ryan we've seen -- it's a dramatic evening. We've seen protesters there. We've seen the Vice-President on Mike Pence arrived to protest. As we know the vice-president has been breaking his ties. Also broke the tie earlier in the week to get this thing -- get them to continue on with this process.
So what are you hearing on Capitol Hill? Where are we in the process right now?
RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, all eyes right now are on Senator John McCain of Arizona. And we still d not know where or how he intends to vote here in the next few minutes.
We had a camera as we showed you just a few minutes ago outside of his office. He refused to tell reporters what his plans were as he made his way from here in the Russell Office, Senate Office Building where I am all the way over the Capitol.
He did not tell reporter as he walked into the chamber. So reporters have been left to kind of read the key leads for his interactions on the Senate floor. We know that he had a very brief conversation with the minority leader Chuck Schumer. He also did talk to John Cornyn who is the majority rep. who actually just spoke on the Senate floor.
There were some interactions there that you could read into if you're really desperately looking to trying and figure out exactly where Senator McCain intends to go with this. But it's probably better to just let his vote speak for it self. The reason I'm telling you this Don is because this is pretty incredible that we are this close to the vote and we still don't know if the Republicans have the 50 votes necessary to put this over the top.
And it is also pretty compelling that of all the people that we're waiting to hear from it is John McCain giving everything that he has gone through over the past several weeks. The diagnosis of an aggressive form of brain cancer that he is dealing with, he came in, you know, very dramatically earlier in the week to cast a vote in this healthcare debate.
[00:30:05] You know, one of the main reasons that Senator McCain is here is because he wants to weigh in on the National Defense Authorization Act. They need to get health care done and passed or moved on from so that he can deal with that before he has to head back to Arizona for treatment.
So, yes, he is the key figure here right now. We're watching his every move. And when this vote starts to take place, the direction he goes in could really decide whether or not Republicans have the votes necessary to pass this bill tonight. DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Ryan, I want to ask you about this. You said even inside the Capitol, you can hear protesters outside the Capitol. And they have been there all day, also greeting the vice president as he arrived earlier.
RYAN: Yes, it's a pretty large group. And I should also point out, Don, frankly, for the past month everywhere you turn on Capitol Hill there have been protesters. They've been outside majority leaders Mitch McConnell's office here in the Russell Simmons office building, which is not too far from where I am.
But today they started around 6 o'clock tonight. There's been a relatively large group of them. They've been very loud. They've heard from Democratic senators to come out of the Capitol, to come down and talk to them. They want their voice to be heard.
Now obviously they have a very specific point of view as it relates to this. They don't necessarily reflect the entire country. But I think, Don, what they do show us is the passion behind this particular piece of legislation. And rightly so. There is a lot of passion tied up in this because it is something that impacts one-sixth of the American economy.
All of us know someone's who's been impacted by either some sort of health care scare, where they had the necessary coverage to help pull them through or they lacked the sufficient coverage to help them in that situation. So it's not a surprise that people are passionate about it. But you're right, the most dramatic moment was Mike Pence pulled up in his motorcade.
To be here in case he has to cast the tying vote. And the screams were as loud as we've heard them all night. They yelled shame, they yelled shame on you. There also yelled kill the bill. There's no doubt that the vice president heard those calls. Whether or not it impacts the proceedings here tonight, we'll still have to wait and see.
LEMON: Ryan, I need to you to stand by. The vote happening at any moment.
I'm Don Lemon. You're live here on CNN. Dana Bash, our chief political correspondent joins me as well.
A dramatic evening, one that is going to be quite long for us and quite long for the folks in Washington as well.
DANA BASH, CNN SR. U.S. CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. I did want to report a bit of the atmosphere that we're getting from our producer, who has been in and out of the chamber, Ted Barrett.
He just sent me an e-mail. He said the Republicans are walking around quietly. Many appear to be in the cloakroom, which is the private area behind the Senate floor that only senators and key staff can go in. He said the few on the floor don't look very happy.
And typically -- and Ted, like I, have watched folks like this a lot and can kind of sense body language. He said that it would be more like a cocktail like atmosphere if they thought it was going to pass and it doesn't look this way.
BASH: Now having said all that, I just want to say, having said all that, it is not over. Things change on a dime. People in the cloakroom could be getting their arms twisted. We don't know. But in terms of right here and now that's --
LEMON: All right, I got you.
But couldn't it be they just think this that isn't good either way and they feel like --
BASH: -- absolutely.
LEMON: -- I hate to say it again, damned if I do, damned if I don't --
BASH: -- no question. And it's 12:30 at night or in the morning East Coast time. All of those things.
It is not -- all the options are bad for these guys. I mean, do you -- do you take a leap of faith, particularly for the Republicans, who think that this is -- who are very concerned that there's a chance what they're going to vote on could -- has even a modicum of chance of becoming law, because they think it will throw off the insurance markets and that it will, you know, make people who are already in a tough spot even worse.
LEMON: Because they own it. They own it.
BASH: And because they own it. And because they own it, and, so yes. I think that's -- that very well could be -- and they also just don't know how this is going to turn out. But I think that's a very good point.
LEMON: Let's interview Senator Maggie Hassan, a New Hampshire Democrat.
Senator, thank you so much for joining us. The vote is about to take place.
Do you think Republicans have the votes to pass this skinny repeal?
SEN. MAGGIE HASSAN (D), NEW HAMPSHIRE: Well, we certainly don't know for sure. But it seems as if they have the votes. I just was hearing you talk about the general mood in the chamber. Earlier tonight, a number of my Republican colleagues said, what a disaster this bill was. Senator Graham even calling it a fraudulent disaster, if I've got his
exact language right. They know that this bill is bad for the American people. It would rip coverage away from about 16 million people, take about 7 million people off of Medicaid and --
HASSAN: -- drive insurance premiums up to the tune of 20 percent a year, starting this January and totally destabilize markets.
So they know it's a bad bill and they've even said they're hoping the House doesn't pass it and wanted particular assurances from the House they wouldn't pass it as is.
Democrats have another idea, which is to return to the regular process that the Senate has followed for over 200 years and have hearings and get stakeholder involvement and come together and make the improvements we know we need to make on the Affordable Care Act.
I come at this as a governor, former governor, as a mother and now as a United States senator. I have two wonderful children, the oldest of whom has very severe physical disabilities and medical needs.
I know what it is like to be at a bedside and find out that the surgery didn't go exactly as planned and all of a sudden there's a complication and wonder whether your insurance is going to cover that complication.
I don't think Americans want to have to negotiate with an insurance company at their children's bedside. And I hear over and over from constituents in New Hampshire and frankly in the last few days who have been at the Capitol and trying to speak with their senators on the other side of the aisle, how critical health care coverage is to them for the safety and health of their children and family members, for their ability to go to work because they're taking care of their own health care problem --
HASSAN: -- or their ability to care for their parents who are in nursing homes, covered by Medicaid.
So I'm very concerned. I wish my American colleagues would reject this bill and we get to work on improving our health care system.
LEMON: But, Senator, even still, if this passes, this is not a done deal. As our Dana Bash has been saying all along, this is a long process. And they haven't come onto a consensus on exactly what they do want.
HASSAN: Right. But here's my concern. One of the things that Senator Graham said tonight was that he didn't like the bill, it was a fraudulent disaster, he hoped they wouldn't pass it but he said he wanted to it get it to the House because why would the Senate, why would the Republican senators want to own such a bad bill. That's a political analysis. This is about real people's lives. And
I think what we're seeing is that both chambers want to make the other chamber take it on. And I'm very concerned the Speaker of the House tonight would not say that the House would not bass the bill as the Senate sent it to them.
And I am very, very concerned that, once it gets over there, they're going to go ahead and pass it just because right now it appears that politics are dominating the day.
LEMON: Senator Hassan, I know you're saying this on television, do you make this plea to your Republican colleagues personally?
HASSAN: Oh, we have been making this plea pretty much ever since I got here. I got sworn in on January 3rd. On January 4th, the Republicans announced that they were going to do this health care bill through the reconciliation process without Democratic participation. And we have been asking the -- I'm on the Health Committee, as you may know, the Health Committee that has jurisdiction over this policy.
And we have been asking at every health meeting to participate. We have put forward ideas about how to stabilize the markets and improve. We've offered bills. We've asked Republicans to join us on them.
And we will keep asking until the very last opportunity because people's health, well-being, their lives are at stake. The American economy is at stake and our ability to commit to the ideal of a democracy where everybody counts is at stake.
BASH: Hey, Senator, it's Dana Bash. I'm here with Don Lemon.
If this actually doesn't pass and if this just kind of falls apart, I know we're just hypothesizing here but just go with it, if you will, for a second -- do you think -- I mean, I know that you're a governor from a purple state, so it's in your blood to want to work across the aisle.
And you've been there for six months.
Knowing the atmospherics where you are, do you think there's any real possibility in your heart of hearts that Republicans and Democrats could get together and start from scratch and figure out a way to find a bipartisan solution here?
HASSAN: I think there's lots of agreements on ways we could strengthen our insurance markets and move forward on a bipartisan solution. I never give up hope for that because the people of my state, New Hampshire, and I think the people across the country set an example for their elected leaders every day.
They solve difficult problems together every day. And I am confident in our capacity to do that. If we listen to the people we represent and put them first, I'm committed to doing that. I know my colleagues --
[00:40:00] HASSAN: -- on the Democratic side of the aisle are. And I am hoping that, as my Republican colleagues continue to really analyze this bill, whatever happens tonight, I am hoping that we can get back to a point where we are putting the health care and the productivity and our country's economy first.
LEMON: Senator Maggie Hassan, Democratic from New Hampshire, we appreciate your time.
HASSAN: Thank you.
LEMON: Thank you very much. We appreciate it. I know it's a busy night for you. But we want to get it back to what's happening now on the Senate floor.
They're voting now to send this to committee. This is from the Democrats, not going to pass. But the interesting thing the two key players in all of this, especially John McCain and also Lindsey Graham, some color behind the scenes on what's happening there.
BASH: So we can only see what the Senate, official Senate cameras send out. But our team on Capitol Hill, they can be in the chamber and see some things the cameras don't capture. And I can just tell you some of the color that, as you've been talking to the senator, has been going on, is that John McCain, who as you said, is probably going to be linchpin here, whether or not he will actually vote yes or no.
For a little while, he was sitting by himself in his chair and just kind of sitting there, not talking to anybody, while the Republican leadership was kind of huddled, trying to figure out what was going on.
Now he has been joined by others, like his colleague from Arizona, Jeff Flake; Lisa Murkowski, who's another very critical vote. We'll see how she ends up on this because she didn't even vote to proceed to this at all. She was one of two Republicans who said no, she and Senator Susan Collins.
So as we watch this play out -- now, again, the senators are all on the floor right now because they're voting on a Democratic measure. But as they're -- generally what happens is, as they're on the floor, that's when final arm-twisting happens.
LEMON: Is it fair to say the general mood there is, meh, as you said earlier, it sounds like they weren't too happy about this, they looked a bit glum. And just to add more to that, McCain and Graham were sitting alone. Graham's phone rang and he left for a minute -- I'm not sure what that means. No Republican senator would approach McCain while he was there to talk to him.
And he sat alone. In the meantime, the leadership is having a serious huddle, McConnell, Blunt and Cornyn.
BASH: Drama. This is high drama. I would say "High Noon" but it's the wrong time of day for that --
BASH: -- high midnight, yes, almost 1:00 am. But, yes, it is high drama to see exactly how this goes down because if this fails, this is the ultimate last ditch to keep this idea of repealing ObamaCare alive.
And if this fails -- and, again, I think we have to underscore John McCain, who, on Tuesday, came in with such drama, wanting to be a part of this debate and to be a part of other debates as well after he just had brain surgery last week and got a horrible diagnosis -- he could be the guy -- he is likely to be the guy who decides whether this continues or not.
And just to kind of bring it back to what will determine that, a big question has been whether or not these senators, who do not like, who frankly hate and are loath to even imagine the bill that they have before them becoming a law of the land, which is just to repeal the mandate, the individual mandate, the employer mandate and other things that will just, without other protections that will, they believe, really destabilize the insurance markets.
But to do this only as a process move to get it to conference, the question is whether he, John McCain, will take the House Speaker, Paul Ryan at his word, that Paul Ryan promises this will not be the end of the road, that they will have a compromise discussion. Lindsey Graham, others told Paul Ryan that they will take him at his word.
After a conference call that they had on speakerphone, John McCain is TBD.
LEMON: To be determined. And just a moment ago, before they switched the shot, earlier you could see Mitch McConnell there, Marco Rubio as well. And to be noted, the Vice President of the United States also in the room.
And just to give a little bit more about what Dana was saying, this is sort of behind the scenes as we wait on this vote to happen, on repealing, the skinny repeal of ObamaCare, Senator Murkowski on one side of McCain, as you said. And Flake, after having talked to Pence and Cornyn, walked up and switched spots with Graham. So maybe they're trying talk and maybe sort of get some idea as to how McCain -- what McCain is going to do.
LEMON: But Lindsey Graham has already said he's going to vote for it even though he's not happy with it. And Murkowski is now on one side of McCain and Flake on the other, a notable floor movement, Capito is on the Dems side, talking with Senator Cantwell. Just, yes.
BASH: Yes. It's just the color. One of the things that I always -- the personal drama and the interpersonal kinds of relationships that all these senators have is fascinating to watch. There's nothing to me -- I'm a congressional nerd -- that is more interesting and then to watch moments like this to see kind of how they get along. But it's not just about that. It's about how they're approaching the
key undecided voters and whether there's anything that the leadership can do and, in this case, the Vice President of the United States of America, who also happens to also be the president of Senate, to change minds.
LEMON: All right, Dana Bash. All right, viewers. Stand by. That's a drama that we have -- and, again, this keeps continuing on; as we understand John McCain is in deep conversation with Lisa Murkowski, which is important, because she was on the fence about this bill.
So, again, everyone trying to convince those who may be on the fence about this, who may have voted no in the past, to come over to their side. And there you see Mitch McConnell there, at the bottom of your screen. And again, this is all happening. The vote should happen at any moment. Whether this is sort of the beginning of the -- or, I should say --
BASH: -- McConnell's talking to Dean Heller.
LEMON: To Dean Heller.
BASH: -- Republican of Nevada, who is another very important vote here. He was barely a yes vote to even start debate.
And another one who has a lot of pressure from his constituents not to do much to change ObamaCare, because he's actually in a state, Nevada, where ObamaCare, for the most part, is working, in large part, because his governor, the Republican governor, Brian Sandoval, took Medicaid dollars and the Medicaid expansion; whereas a lot of other Republican governors said, no way, we're not going to be any part of this.
And that's why this whole notion of repealing and replacing ObamaCare has been so vexing for Dean Heller, who's talking at the bottom of the screen with the leader.
LEMON: -- approaching in the red tie, do you see right there, sort of in the middle of your screen now, coming over to speak with Mitch McConnell.
The next step in the repealing of ObamaCare, will it pass, will it happen?
We'll carry the vote for you live right here on CNN. Quick break. We'll be right back.
(MUSIC PLAYING) LEMON: And here we go. We're back now live on CNN. And here with us, CNN's chief political correspondent, Dana Bash. And we're awaiting the Senate vote at any moment now on this skinny repeal of the Republicans' last ditch attempt to roll back ObamaCare after seven years of trying.
And again, you're looking live now at the Senate floor. We've been pointing out the folks who are there but they've been walking in and out.
Who is that in the middle of our screen there?
There's Orrin Hatch right there in the middle of the screen. But again, this vote will happen at any moment.
Is this the next step in repealing ObamaCare?
Let's talk about it. Dana Bash; CNN political commentator, Alice Stewart, is here as well; contributor Jason Kander; Karine Jean- Pierre, the national spokesperson for moveon.org and CNN senior economics analyst, Stephen Moore.
Alice, as we look at these live pictures from the Senate floor, you've been talking to constituents all day. They're getting lots of calls as they have been through this entire process.
What are they saying?
Because there were some protesters at the Capitol tonight.
But what are constituents saying?
ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR. Right. To remind folks, the protesters were out there, outside the Capitol as Vice President Pence came, who would, of course, cast the deciding vote here.
And they were shouting, "Shame, shame, shame." And these are obviously liberal groups who support ObamaCare and are opposed to any efforts to repeal and replace ObamaCare. And there are also a lot of these groups that are plugging and manning the phone lines and jamming up the phone lines for Republicans there, here in Washington and saying, please don't repeal and replace ObamaCare; we'll be thrown off.
But at the same time, what these Republican senators are standing firm on is what they campaigned on the last seven years, is telling their constituents, we will repeal ObamaCare. And President Trump did the same thing.
So what we're seeing is a lot of the calls are coming from liberal groups that are being paid to tell them don't touch ObamaCare. But they are relying on their constituents who elected them into office and they hope will re-elect them when it's time for reelection. And they're standing firm on that.
And a lot of their supporters, I'm hearing from some, senators' offices that GOP, their supporters are saying, look, you guys campaigned on this for the last seven years.
What is taking you so long?
We gave you the House and the Senate and White House. Let's get this done. So it's a mixed bag but, more than anything, the ones that are standing firm and the ones that have recently been nos that are now yes, they realize that it's time to act.
And they've been given a mandate by the people. And that's exactly what they're doing. And what we're seeing now -- and, hopefully, John McCain will come forward and move this to conference because we need to continue the conversation. Take the timeline and throw it out the window and let's start and have a serious conversation on what we can do moving forward.
LEMON: And what's happening now, this is a motion to send the bill to committee.
And you said this motion fails, right, this is the one that's going to fail?
BASH: Yes. And I think what's really going on now -- and I'm not sure if every senator is there, so maybe they really are holding open the vote, waiting for a final senator. But more likely than not, in my experience, they're holding this vote up, which is the precursor to the important vote as they try to twist arms and as they try to convince -- at least, it looks like, according to our account, at least one more Republican senator to vote for this. And I think at this point that Republican senator is probably John McCain.
LEMON: Probably John McCain. I was going to say, Alice, at this point, if they're trying to twist arms, obviously they don't have the votes, not a good sign.
STEWART: It's not. And look, Senator McCain was pretty firm today in his concerns about what he was hearing from -- Mark Meadows in the House reached out to him and Lindsey Graham and said, look, our plan over in the House is to move this on ahead. And that's not what they want.
They want to continue the conversation. And from what I'm hearing, Paul Ryan has been trying to reassure everyone that they're going to slow down. They want to have more block granting to the states and they want reassurance that this isn't just carte blanche for the House to go on and approve what they're have on the table right now.
And that's the holdout. They're not confident with what they're hearing. They're concerned that the House is just going to move things along. And John McCain said it very eloquently, when he spoke the other day, that we need to have this conversation. And he would certainly love to have some Democrat buy-in and have a bipartisan health care bill.
And he's certainly in a position now to make his feelings known. And given he's the holdout vote --
STEWART: -- people are going to listen.
BASH: Apparently all senators have voted. So what that means and what you're looking at is stall. I mean, this is the hold button as they try to figure out if they can get anybody to change their minds. The flip side of that, the other way to explain this is, if they had the votes, they would be voting right now.
LEMON: Voting right now.
BASH: They would be voting right now. And they're not, which means they don't have the votes.
STEPHEN MOORE, CNN ECONOMICS ANALYST: Don, can I make a point?
LEMON: Yes, go for it.
MOORE: Just you guys were talking about John McCain and it's just interesting because if you go back eight years ago, when ObamaCare passed, you were talking about John McCain. If you go back eight years ago when it passed, John McCain was one of the severest critics of ObamaCare. And it would be an amazing moment if he switched to, essentially, saving that law of which he was such a severe critic.
I would also say one other thing that, if for some reason, this amendment fails, I think it is such a devastating moment for the Republican Party. I think it'll take months, maybe years to recover from this, if they're not able to get this thing morning over the goal line.
There was a great editorial from "The Wall Street Journal" about a week ago. And I agreed with it. And it basically said, look, this is not just a defining moment for now, it's a generational defining moment for the Republican Party about what they stand for.
So this is a big moment we're facing when we find out what happens. I don't know if it's going to be in the next half hour or so but I'm on pins and needles right now.
LEMON: You want to say something --
BASH: Just to kind of give you some color -- and this is coming from M.J. Lee, who is part of our amazing team who's in the Senate chamber and in and out of the Senate chamber so they can give us this information, that John McCain has been in a very long conversation with Vice President Mike Pence, which also, just by way of context, the role of the vice president, as we now know, since he broke a tie vote earlier this year, is to be the president of the Senate, which generally means you sit and you preside.
I don't remember -- and I'm sure it's happened -- but I don't remember a time where the vice president has been just kind of in the well of the Senate, on the floor of the Senate, wandering around and lobbying.
That just gives you a sense of how high these stakes are and how dire they are.
MOORE: Dana, do you remember back in -- it was during the Bush years, when we passed the Medicare prescription drug bill. I don't know if you remember that --
MOORE: I think that vote went on for three or four hours in the House --
MOORE: -- and they were twisting arms to get the final votes.
BASH: That was back in the day of the Hammer, Tom Delay. And there's no Hammer anymore --
BASH: -- particularly in the Senate.
LEMON: -- reminding us of that, as we sit up here at --
BASH: But I do remember that very well.
LEMON: Yes, Jason, go on.
JASON KANDER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Don, let me paint a little bit different picture. Y'all are doing a great job of painting the picture of what's going on the Senate floor right now, of the body language of folks.
But right now at home, Americans are sitting watching this. And they're not watching this because they think this is great television or great drama or because necessarily they think it affects somebody other than themselves.
They're watching it because it might make a huge difference, will make a huge difference in their lives. They're watching these folks to see what they'll do. And what's so disappointing is so many people, who -- people like Mitch McConnell, who are thinking about this as a team sport, thinking about it in terms of what it's going to mean for the Republican Party.
I can tell you that I know at least some folks I know -- you know, my dad is sitting at home; he has Lou Gehrig's disease. It's going to make a difference for him. My mom is wondering whether her cancer might come back and what this will mean for her.
My brother, who is in school and has his own business, and whose wife, my sister-in-law, is pregnant, is worried about whether he loses his health insurance if they move forward with this. So that's the sort of thing that's happening at home for people. That is the picture that a lot of Americans have, as they look around their living room right now. This is real.
This is -- it shouldn't be treated like a team sport.
LEMON: Absolutely, it is real. And we understand that.
But Karin, earlier Alice said that the people who were protesting outside, they were paid liberal groups. But there are conservatives, there are Republicans who are upset about it and who have been protesting, especially at these town halls -- and I'm not sure the makeup of the folks who are outside the Capitol, but it's not just paid liberals who are not happy and who are protesting this bill.
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, MOVEON.ORG: No, that's exactly right. Look, this bill is unpopular. The number tells you the story. And look, Republicans botched this. They have everything. They own everything right now in Washington, D.C. And what we're learning is they can't govern.
They were supposed to give us something better than ObamaCare, at least that's what they told their constituency. That's what they told everyone. And they haven't been able to do that.
And what we're seeing now is ObamaCare is actually popular. People want to keep their health care. They want to keep ACA. They don't want Medicaid gutted. They want protections for their pre-existing condition. And that's what we're seeing right now.
And as to the protesters, look, I was out there at the Capitol --