The Hill will be providing live updates as Senate Republicans seek to start their ObamaCare repeal effort on Tuesday.

Heller to vote yes to begin healthcare debate

2:15 p.m.

Sen. Dean HellerDean HellerTwo key Republicans to vote ‘yes’ on starting healthcare debateLive coverage: Senate heads for dramatic healthcare repeal voteThune: Progress being made on Medicaid ‘wraparound’MORE (Nev.) on Tuesday will vote to begin the healthcare debate.

Heller, the most vulnerable Senate Republican incumbent in 2018, announced in a statement that he will vote to advance healthcare legislation, even though he warned last month that he opposed a motion to proceed to the Senate version of healthcare reform because it would leave tens of millions more people uninsured.

Heller argued that blocking a debate would leave the Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare, as the status quo.

He was a handful of Republican senators considered most likely to block a debate on healthcare legislation and send Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellCongress, raise the minimum wage rather than take away healthcareSenate Dems warn they will block recess appointmentsOPINION | McConnell attempt to butcher ObamaCare is political malpracticeMORE (R-Ky.) back to the drawing board.

Paul: Clean repeal up for consideration first

2:08 p.m.

Sen. Rand PaulRand PaulDemocrats, so focused on Russia, risk pushing Trump to war with IranThe Hill’s 12:30 ReportLive coverage: Senate heads for dramatic healthcare repeal voteMORE (R-Ky.) told reporters that he believes Republican leaders would move to a vote on a clean repeal of ObamaCare after passing a motion to proceed.

Paul said that an amendment of the repeal-and-replace bill would follow.

“Then it’s going to be open to see what happens. I think people are predicting we may be able to get a more ‘skinny; repeal that involves some things we can find consensus.”

Paul has been staunchly opposed to the Senate’s repeal-and-replace bill.

The bulk of the Senate GOP conference is still in lunch.

Portman to back motion to proceed

2:01 p.m.

Sen. Rob PortmanRob PortmanTwo key Republicans to vote ‘yes’ on starting healthcare debateLive coverage: Senate heads for dramatic healthcare repeal voteMcConnell to pin down colleagues on healthcareMORE (R-Ohio) will vote in favor of the key procedural motion to effectively start debate in the Senate on ObamaCare legislation, according to the Columbus Dispatch.

The Dispatch quoted a source close to Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican who has opposed various Senate ObamaCare repeal-and-replace measures. The source said Portman had called Kasich to tell him the news.

Portman has long been seek as a key swing vote, and his support for the measure will make it more difficult for other centrists on the fence to vote ‘no.’

Collins: ‘Skinny’ GOP health plan not adequate

1:35 p.m.

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan CollinsSenate panel rejects Trump’s effort to slash transportation fundingCollins warns ‘skinny’ GOP health plan not adequateSenators mock Trump on hot micMORE (R-Maine), a key moderate, voiced concern over the slimmed-down Senate GOP plan going into the GOP policy lunch.

Collins said she had not heard about the so-called skinny ObamaCare repeal plan until a reporter asked about.

“I would look forward to hearing more details about that at lunch,” she said, as Senate Republicans gathered to discuss healthcare strategy ahead of this afternoon’s vote. 

Schumer knocks Rand Paul over support for key procedural vote

1:35 p.m.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck SchumerCharles SchumerLive coverage: Senate heads for dramatic healthcare repeal voteTrump: Why aren’t ‘beleaguered AG,’ investigators looking at Hillary Clinton?Trump: Washington ‘actually much worse than anyone ever thought’MORE (D-N.Y.) knocked Sen. Rand Paul after the Kentucky Republican signaled he would vote to start the healthcare debate.

“It’s true that he will likely get a vote on an amendment to do repeal without replace – but surely he knows that vote will fail. Why, then, would the junior Senator from Kentucky … vote on the motion to proceed knowing that he won’t get what he wants?” Schumer asked.

Schumer added that he thinks Paul is going along with GOP leadership because if the Senate goes to conference with the House to merge their proposals, “the likeliest compromise in conference is full repeal of the Affordable Care Act or something close to it.”

Paul said on Twitter earlier on Tuesday that the Senate will take up the 2015 ObamaCare repeal bill if they can get the 50 votes needed to start debate on the House-passed healthcare measure.

GOP senator: ‘Skinny’ repeal ‘rather unsatisfying’

1:22 p.m.

Sen. Ron JohnsonRon JohnsonLive coverage: Senate heads for dramatic healthcare repeal voteUnhappy senators complain about healthcare processCruz: Tax reform chances ‘drop significantly’ if healthcare failsMORE (R-Wis.) said a proposed “skinny repeal” of ObamaCare would be “rather unsatisfying from my standpoint.”

Johnson said that GOP leaders haven’t yet told him what such a repeal would look like.

The conservative senator has been a frequent critic of the hurried process used to try to pass ObamaCare repeal and the limited info from leaders.

“You have to start with information. In this alternate universe, information is the last step in the process, including, I guess, right now, what we’re actually going to vote on, which is a little hard to believe,” Johnson told reporters.

When asked if pared-down repeal would be better than nothing, Johnson didn’t respond, but shook his head.

‘Skinny’ bill would delay repeal of ObamaCare mandates 

1:10 p.m.

Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) said the “skinny bill” would delay the repeal of the individual and employer mandates for two years. 

He said he would support the skinny bill in order to “get to the next step.”

Pence, Priebus arrive in Capitol 

1 p.m. 

Vice President Pence and White House chief of staff Reince Priebus have been spotted heading into the Senate GOP lunch.

The vote on the motion to proceed is expected shortly after the lunch ends.  

VP Pence & WH Chief of Staff Priebus arrive at Senate GOP closed lunch to speak to Republicans ahead of their MTP vote on health care. pic.twitter.com/17frPcZ3ci

— Craig Caplan (@CraigCaplan) July 25, 2017

Chamber of Commerce urges yes vote to debate

12:55 p.m.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday urged senators to vote in favor of the motion to begin debate on healthcare legislation, saying that it will consider including the vote in its annual scorecard.

“While good faith negotiations continue, remaining issues can be dealt with on the Senate Floor through the debate and amendment process,” Jack Howard, senior vice president of congressional and public affairs at the Chamber, said in a letter to senators.

Heritage Action and Americans for Tax Reform have also called on lawmakers to vote yes on the motion.

McConnell pitches colleagues on beginning repeal debate

12:21 p.m.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is urging his caucus to vote to start debate on repealing and replacing ObamaCare, a few hours before a key procedural hurdle. 

“Any senator who votes against starting debate is telling America that you’re just fine with the ObamaCare nightmare,” he said.  

McConnell will need at least 50 GOP senators to vote “yes” on taking up the House bill, which is being used as a vehicle for any Senate action.

He got a late boost of momentum after Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) signaled he would vote “yes,” on the heels of news that Sen. John McCainJohn McCainThe Hill’s 12:30 ReportOPINION | McConnell attempt to butcher ObamaCare is political malpracticeLive coverage: Senate heads for dramatic healthcare repeal voteMORE (R-Ariz.) is returning to the Senate in time for the Tuesday afternoon vote.

No. 2 Republican reiterates ‘everything’s on the table’

12:10 p.m. 

Senate Majority Whip John CornynJohn CornynLive coverage: Senate heads for dramatic healthcare repeal voteSenate GOP floats scaled-down healthcare billMcCain returning to Senate in time for health voteMORE (R-Texas) said “everything’s on the table,” just a few hours ahead of a vote to begin debate on repealing ObamaCare.

When asked if it was possible to move to a “skinny” repeal bill, Cornyn said, “I think we can do that.”

He reiterated that if the Senate can pass a bill, it can go to conference with the House to hammer out the details. 

Paul a ‘yes’ on key healthcare vote

12:08 p.m.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said Tuesday that he will support a motion to proceed to debate on healthcare later in the day.

Paul tweeted that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told him the upper chamber would take up the 2015 ObamaCare repeal bill previously passed by Congress.

“If this is indeed the plan, I will vote to proceed and I will vote for any all measures that are clean repeal,” Paul said

Paul has pushed for a vote on the 2015 bill, which repeals large parts of ObamaCare’s requirements and regulations, instead of the GOP repeal-and-replace plan that Republicans have been working on this year.

If that measure can’t get the 60 votes it needs, which is unlikely, Paul said he would support “whatever version of CLEAN repeal we can pass.”

McCain returning to the Senate this afternoon

12:06 p.m.

Sen. John McCain will return to the Senate about 2:45 p.m. on Tuesday, according to the Arizona Republican’s office.

McCain, whose office announced last week he had been diagnosed with brain cancer, is returning in time to vote on taking up the House-passed healthcare bill in the upper chamber.

His office said McCain will speak on the Senate floor after the vote for first remarks since returning to Capitol Hill, and then speak with reporters off the Senate floor.

Senators prepare for dramatic vote

11:35 a.m.

Senate Republicans are preparing to take a dramatic procedural vote on Tuesday that could make or break their ObamaCare repeal effort.

It’s unclear if Republicans will have the 50 votes they need to clear a first procedural hurdle, though they are pulling out all the stops to do so.

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The vote on a motion to proceed to the House ObamaCare repeal-and-replace measure is expected sometime Tuesday afternoon, but it hasn’t been scheduled.

The latest Senate GOP effort to get a bill through the Senate is the proposal of a “skinny” repeal bill that would end ObamaCare’s mandates and the medical device tax.

The hope is that this measure might win 50 votes from Republican senators who have been divided on healthcare.

GOP leaders have kept members mostly in the dark about what they will ultimately be voting on: a full repeal of ObamaCare with a two-year delay to find a replacement; the Better Care Reconciliation Act, which would make dramatic changes to Medicaid in addition to repealing large parts of the law; or the “skinny repeal.”

Sen. John BarrassoJohn BarrassoLive coverage: Senate heads for dramatic healthcare repeal voteWhat Trump can do to cripple ObamaCareTop Republican: Senate will vote to proceed to House healthcare billMORE (R-Wyo.) said if members succeed in moving to begin debate, leaders don’t even need to decide what the final product will be until after 20 hours of debate expire.

It’s a highly unusual situation for the upper chamber to find itself in, made even more dramatic by Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) return to the Senate after being diagnosed with a brain tumor.

– Nathaniel Weixel, Jordain Carney, Naomi Jagoda, Rachel Roubein, Peter Sullivan and Jessie Hellmann contributed

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