The effort fell 49-43, exactly along party lines, with eight senators not voting in the rare weekend session. Third-fifths of the Senate would have had to vote to add Obamacare repeal to a highway funding bill.
Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) is expected to ask the Senate — likely Monday — to reconsider the Obamacare amendment. He would propose a procedural motion to change Senate rules in order to try to repeal the Affordable Care Act with just 51 votes.
Such a momentous change in the Senate’s rules is unlikely. But conservatives have suggested that they would chastise Republicans who would block a rule change that could lead to repealing the health law that they detest.
Republican Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) all initially voted against repeal but changed their votes within minutes after the apparent mistakes. Paul’s aide was spotted on the floor talking with the senator after the initial vote was cast. Collins and Sasse corrected their votes at the same time and shared comments on the Senate floor.
The Senate on Sunday voted down a Republican effort to repeal Obamacare, the GOP’s first attempt to get rid of the president’s health law since the party took control of the chamber in January.