U.S. Senate votes to proceed on health care reform debate

U.S. health care reform

The U.S. Senate today agreed, 51-50, to begin debate on the House-passed bill, H.R. 1628, “The American Health Care Act of 2017.” The vote was 50 Republican Senators in favor of the motion to proceed. Two Republican Senators and 48 Democratic Senators voted against. Vice President Pence voted in favor of the motion to break the tie.

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The House passed H.R. 1628 on May 4, 2017.  H.R. 1628 includes tax provisions. Read TaxNewsFlash-Legislative Update

The procedural vote today is the first action by the Senate in what could be a lengthy legislative process.  H.R. 1628 is being considered by the Senate under a special budgetary process known as "reconciliation."  The reconciliation process includes a number of special rules, including allowing legislation to be approved by the Senate with a simple majority vote (thus potentially allowing Senate approval with only Republican support), limiting debate on the bill to a maximum of 20 hours, and allowing unlimited amendments.

It is expected that a great number of amendments will be offered, possibly including several alternative bills, prior to a final vote. Thus, it is possible that any bill that may ultimately pass the Senate would be different from H.R. 1628 as approved by the House.

The House and Senate must ultimately pass identical versions of a bill before it can be signed by the president and become law.

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