Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., said Friday that more senators have told him they support his proposal to overhaul Obamacare, bringing the total to as many as 49 votes.
The bill, which would be passed through reconciliation, would need 50 votes to pass, assuming a tie-breaking vote by Vice President Mike Pence. Reconciliation is a budget measure that allows passage with a simple majority rather than the 60 votes needed to block a filibuster. The Senate faces a Sept. 30 deadline to use reconciliation, according to a recommendation by the Senate parliamentarian.
"I'm confident we'll get there on the Republican side," Cassidy said. "People are coming out and saying they are for it, either publicly or privately."
He said that 48 or 49 senators support his amendment, introduced along with Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Dean Heller of Nevada, and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.
Cassidy met with reporters at his office to answer questions about his amendment, which would take revenues from Obamacare and distribute them as a block grant to states so they could craft their own healthcare plans.
The last time the Senate tried to repeal Obamacare through reconciliation it failed by one vote, unexpectedly cast by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. The other Republican senators who voted against the measure, which would have narrowly repealed provisions in the law, were Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has come out against the overhaul amendment.
"I can't support a bill that keeps 90% of Obamacare in place. #GrahamCassidy is not repeal or replace, it is more Obamacare Lite , " Paul tweeted Friday.
Asked whether the path to 50 still existed without his support, a senior aide for Cassidy replied, "We believe so based on the conversations we've had."
Cassidy told reporters that Graham is in conversations with the administration about supporting the bill.
"We think the president will be on board," he said.