What in the world is happening with the health care bill

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The Obamacare repeal debate has begun in the Senate. That’s about all we know for sure.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has managed, after prospects looked dim again and again, to open debate on an Obamacare repeal plan. It’s a huge victory for Senate Republicans’ hopes of passing some kind of health care bill, and it puts health insurance for millions of Americans at risk. Every plan Republicans are considering is projected to lead to millions fewer Americans having health insurance.

But Republicans haven’t actually settled on what legislation they are trying to pass at the end of this debate. Bills to cleanly repeal much of Obamacare or to more fully repeal and replace the 2010 health care law don’t currently have the votes necessary to pass. In just the past few days, the idea of a much smaller bill, repealing just a few of Obamacare’s most unpopular provisions, surfaced.

That final destination must be sorted out in a mad rush over the next few days, with the Senate’s arcane budget rules and a vote-a-rama, which will open up Republicans to a flood of Democratic amendments designed to force tough votes that could make the process even more treacherous.

Senate Republicans scored a victory Tuesday. But the ultimate result is far from clear. Let’s break down how the next few days will look.

This is what will actually happen in the Senate over the next day or so

The Senate’s process from here is byzantine. The vote on Tuesday was technically to start debate on the House’s health care bill, but nobody expects that to be the actual legislation the Senate ultimately votes on.

This is what we expect to happen now, per Senate aides. Remember, timing and order are fluid. But this is a rough outline.

  • Two hours of debate on the clean (partial)…

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