- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 25, 2017

Former Sen. Rick Santorum predicted that the Republican health care bill will pass the Senate with exactly 50 votes, saying the measure has enough “core Republican doctrine” to satisfy conservatives even if moderates reject it.

At least five Senate Republicans have expressed opposition the bill in its current form to repeal and replace Obamacare, but Mr. Santorum said he believes the conservatives would change their minds.

“There really isn’t a reason for those four conservative Republicans not to figure out a way to get to yes,” said the ex-Pennsylvania senator and conservative standard-bearer on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

He cited the bill’s changes to funding, saying that “there’s enough reforms in there, there’s enough tax deductions, there’s enough transferring wealth out of Washington for conservatives.”

“The block grant on Medicaid is the same huge change that we saw in 1996 with the block grant on welfare, and by the way, the block grant on welfare has worked tremendously well,” said Mr. Santorum. “It’s core Republican doctrine.”

Sen. Dean Heller, Nevada Republican, announced Friday that he would vote against the bill as written, saying “It’s not the answer.”

His announcement prompted the pro-Trump America First Policies to make it known that it would target the senator with an ad buy in his 2018 reelection bid.

Without Mr. Heller, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will need conservative holdouts to back the Better Care Reconciliation Act. Republicans hold 52 seats in the 100-member Senate.

“I don’t think he [Mr. McConnell] would have brought this forward if he didn’t think he could get the votes,” said Mr Santorum. “Look, they’re going to lose Heller, they’ll probably lose another moderate that they feel they have to lose just for their own election purposes, but I think they’ll hold 50.”

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