Nevada Sen. Dean Heller voted in favor of a motion to proceed to debate on Obamacare on Tuesday.
A Republican, Heller had opposed the original draft legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare but he hadn’t declared how he’d vote on a straight repeal of the health care law.
Heller’s statement was crucial because GOP leaders could only lose two of the 52 Republican senators and keep the bill alive. The motion to proceed passed 51-50, with Vice President Mike Pence casting the deciding vote.
“Obamacare isn’t the answer, but doing nothing to try to solve the problems it has created isn’t the answer either,” Heller said in a statement. “That is why I will vote to move forward and give us a chance to address the unworkable aspects of the law that have left many Nevadans — particularly those living in rural areas — with dwindling or no choices.
“Whether it’s my ideas to protect Nevadans who depend on Medicaid or the Graham-Cassidy proposal that empowers states and repeals the individual and employer mandates, there are commonsense solutions that could improve our health care system and today’s vote gives us the opportunity to fight for them. If the final product isn’t improved for the state of Nevada, then I will not vote for it; if it is improved, I will support it.”
Heller faces perhaps the toughest re-election race next year of any Senate Republican. He and his state’s popular Republican governor, Brian Sandoval, have opposed the GOP bill because of its Medicaid cuts.