Would the House really need to vote again on health care?

Posted at 7:37 PM, May 18, 2017

The House's health care bill, which passed earlier this month still hasn't been sent to the Senate.

But Republican aides say that it's only being kept in the House out of an "abundance of caution."

A report in Bloomberg Thursday afternoon raised concerns that House Republicans were keeping their embattled health care bill in their chamber because they were afraid they may need to vote a second time on health care, a process that would no doubt become a nightmare scenario for House leaders who already had to scrounge for votes to narrowly pass their bill earlier this month.

But GOP aides who spoke with CNN say there are few reasons to believe that Republicans would have to have a do-over on health care.

Here's the issue. Under Senate reconciliation, the process that lawmakers plan to use to repeal and replace Obamacare in the Senate, Republicans only need a simple majority of 51 votes, meaning they wouldn't need any Democratic support.

But there are strings attached. In order to pass a bill using reconciliation, the health care bill has to meet its savings target, which happens to be $2 billion over 10 years in this case. If the House bill doesn't save that much money and it was already in the Senate, the bill would lose its privilege and then require 60 votes -- including eight Democratic ones to pass.

By keeping the bill in the House, Republicans are making sure they can have a do-over if the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office comes out with an analysis showing they hadn't reached that target.

"There is virtually no chance we don't meet the $2 billion savings target," an aide said.

An early estimate of the American Health Care Act estimated it saved roughly $150 billion over a decade. Changes have been made, but aides are confident CBO will show them well within that window.

Republicans also have to be sure that their bill doesn't have any other fatal flaws like crossing jurisdictional boundaries not named in reconciliation instructions or having an impact on social security. Republicans in the House were in constant consultation with the Senate Budget Committee looking for those errors and aides again are confident they will be fine. Still, better safe than sorry.

"You never know until you know" one GOP Senate aide with knowledge of the process told