MILWAUKEE -- The Republican health care bill backed by Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson appears doomed. At least five GOP senators say they will vote "no" -- or have major concerns with it.
Republicans have tried twice before to get a new health care bill passed -- once in June and another time in July. This latest version is a different bill called Graham-Cassidy, after its two main sponsors. But it is running into the same problems.
"I'm optimistic, I really am," said Sen. Johnson recently.
Sen. Johnson's optimism about the latest Republican health care bill may have been misguided. By Sunday, Sen. Ted Cruz said he did not support the bill -- dealing what could be a fatal blow.
Republicans have until month's end to pass the bill by themselves, without Democrats. But they can only afford to lose two votes.
Two Republicans have said they will not support the bill. Three others are likely to vote "no" -- despite Johnson's warnings.
"We've heard some complaints that this doesn't do enough to repeal Obamacare. Well, voting no literally solidifies 100 percent of Obamacare. Doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me," said Sen. Johnson.
The vote count is good news to opponents like Seth Foldy. He practices family medicine in Milwaukee and favors a single payer system known as "Medicare for all" that is supported by some Democrats, including Sen. Tammy Baldwin.
"I think it's important that the bill lose," Foldy said. "Now, hopefully, when this last effort fails, as I hope and I pray it does, we can start talking bipartisanly about a fix."
In a last-ditch tweet, Pres. Donald Trump said the states the Republican holdouts represent would be "big winners" under the bill.
If the bill does fail, it will do so despite the support of House Speaker Paul Ryan.
"I am encouraging every senator to vote for Graham-Cassidy because it's our best last chance to get repeal and replace done," Ryan said.
Again, Republicans have until September 30th to pass a bill with 51 votes under a process called reconciliation. After that, they will need support from Democrats to pass a health care bill.