Whatever health care bill Senate Republicans produce in secret will have to solve a very basic math problem: Can it add up to 50?
By all accounts, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is agnostic about the actual policy of the bill his chamber is drafting. His only concern is whether it can get 50 votes, the bare majority it needs under the “budget reconciliation” rules Republicans are using to avoid a Democratic filibuster. He can lose only two of the 52 members of his conference.
The secretive drafting of the Senate’s plan has allowed speculation to flourish. The truth is we just aren’t sure yet what’s going to be in the bill or how it will differ from the House legislation that was projected to lead to 23 million fewer Americans having health insurance and $830 billion in Medicaid cuts.
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McConnell is pressing ahead for a vote by July 4, the Wall Street Journal reported, though nobody is sure whether he actually has the support he needs. His timeline will give senators as little as one week, maybe less, to review a bill overhauling one-sixth of the US economy.
With that razor-thin margin for error, it seems like it could go either way. Senate Republicans could finally coalesce around a plan to achieve their long-sought goal of undoing Obamacare — or they could fail spectacularly.
Here are three possible paths that could lead the Senate to vote to overturn Obamacare, and four that end with them derailed along the way.