Cassidy says he's close to having the votes to pass Obamacare repeal

Sen. Bill Cassidy Friday sought to rally support for the last-ditch Obamacare repeal plan he co-authored, saying he believes he’s on the verge of winning the final votes needed to jam it through the Senate.

Cassidy claims that as many as 49 GOP senators have expressed support but doesn't have a hard whip count with just days left to use a fast-track process allowing the bill to pass with a simply majority. And his search for the elusive 50 "aye" votes got harder Thursday, when Sen. Rand Paul announced his opposition.

“I can’t support a bill that keeps 90 percent of Obamacare in place,” Paul tweeted, panning the plan crafted by Cassidy and Lindsey Graham as “Obamacare lite.”

That leaves Cassidy and Graham with the slimmest margin for error. With Democrats unified against any attempt to dismantle Obamacare, Republicans can only absorb two defections and still have Vice President Mike Pence cast a tie-breaking vote in favor of the bill. That means the measure needs the backing of at least two of the three senators — Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and John McCain — who opposed the GOP’s last attempt at repeal.

McCain has expressed some support for the Cassidy-Graham bill, but also cautioned that any repeal effort go through the regular committee process. Collins told reporters on Wednesday that she’s still reviewing the legislation but is skeptical of any plan that cuts funding to Planned Parenthood.

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