The Senate parliamentarian has warned Republicans that a provision in their healthcare reform bill related to abortion is unlikely to be allowed, raising a serious threat to the legislation.
The parliamentarian, Elizabeth MacDonough, has flagged language that would bar people from using new refundable tax credits for private insurance plans that cover abortion, according to Senate sources.
If Republicans are forced to strip the so-called Hyde Amendment language from the legislation, which essentially bars federal funds from being used to pay for abortions except to save the life of a mother or in cases of rape and incest, it may doom the bill.
MacDonough declined to comment for this article.
Unless a workaround can be found, conservative senators and groups that advocate against abortion rights are likely to oppose the legislation.
Republicans control 52 seats in the Senate; they can afford only two defections and still pass the bill, assuming Democrats are united against it. Vice President Pence would break a 50-50 tie.
Normally, controversial legislation requires 60 votes to pass the Senate, but Republicans hope to pass the ObamaCare repeal-and-replace bill with a simple majority vote under a special budgetary process known as reconciliation.