Susan Collins Says It’s ‘Very Difficult’ to Imagine Supporting Graham-Cassidy

Survey says … probably not. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Senator Susan Collins told CNN’s Jake Tapper that it’s “very difficult to envision a scenario” in which she would back the Graham-Cassidy health-care bill, and that she has “serious reservations” about it.

“What I am doing, as is my general practice, is I would like to see the Congressional Budget Office analysis, which is expected to come out tomorrow morning,” the Maine Republican said on CNN’s State of the Union.

Republicans are trying to jam Graham-Cassidy through on a rushed timeline with as little oversight as possible, and the CBO has said it does not have time to release a full analysis of the bill, which would likely show tens of millions of people losing insurance as a result. But Collins had already seemed like a probable no, telling the Portland Press-Herald on Friday that she was “leaning against” voting for it.

In a further blow to GOP efforts, Senator Ted Cruz — nobody’s idea of a moderate — said on Sunday morning that he and Utah senator Mike Lee weren’t yet onboard with the bill either.

Collins was one of the three Republican senators who defeated “skinny repeal,” the GOP’s last effort to replace the Affordable Care Act, in July. (She received a hero’s welcome in Maine afterward.) John McCain, who dealt that bill its deathblow, announced his opposition to Graham-Cassidy on Friday. If Collins does vote no, it would take just one more vote to blow up Obamacare repeal once again. Republicans have until September 30 to pass it under Senate reconciliation rules, which requires only 50 votes; after that, they would likely — though not definitely — need to wait until next year for another shot at repeal.

Beyond McCain and Collins, the two Republicans most likely to vote no are Kentucky’s Rand Paul and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski. Paul has been unstinting in his opposition to Graham-Cassidy because it doesn’t go far enough, and has said he “won’t be bribed or bullied” into supporting it. Murkowski voted against “skinny repeal” and has given no indication that she will support this version of repeal. Her state’s governor has also raised serious concerns. But Republicans have been busy trying to buy off her vote, and White House sources still maintain that both senators could be flipped.

Every Democrat, every health-care group imaginable, and, perhaps most important, Jimmy Kimmel stand in opposition to the bill, which would gut Medicaid, slash protections to preexisting conditions, and generally make life miserable for millions. Some Republicans appear to know how catastrophic Graham-Cassidy’s effects would be, but will vote for it anyway to follow through on the longstanding GOP promise to repeal Obamacare.

It’s not clear whether Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will hold a vote on Graham-Cassidy this week if he knows he lacks the votes to pass it, but White House legislative director Marc Short, after lying to Chuck Todd about the bill’s provisions, predicted that the Senate will take it up on Wednesday.

Collins: ‘Very Difficult’ to Imagine Yes on Graham-Cassidy