Sen. Ted Cruz on Sunday said a House plan to repeal and replace Obamacare is fatally flawed because it relies on a three-pronged plan for totally gutting the 2010 law instead of killing it outright.
GOP leaders have urged their troops to rally around a bill that repeals Obamacare's mandate requiring people to hold insurance or pay a tax, replaces its subsidies with refundable age-based tax credits and reels in and caps funding for Medicaid, the government insurance program for the poor.
The bill relies on arcane budget rules to avoid a Democratic filibuster in the Senate, since the GOP only holds 52 seats.
Yet conservatives say the plan amounts to "Obamacare lite" and puts too much faith in the Trump administration's ability to use regulatory authority and future legislation, which can be filibustered, to erase the Affordable Care Act's coverage requirements and regulations on insurers.
"That ain't gonna happen," Mr. Cruz told CBS "Face the Nation." "Bucket three takes eight Democrats. Right now, Senate Democrats are opposing everything. You can't get eight Democrats on agreeing to say, 'Good morning.'"
GOP leaders plan to put their replacement plan, or phase one, on the House floor on Thursday, though they cannot afford to lose more than 21 votes or more than two senators if it makes it out of the lower chamber.
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said he is confident in President Trump's ability to close the deal, noting he flipped a dozen key conservatives to "yes" on Friday by offering changes to Medicaid.
Mr. Cruz said he is still pushing for sweeping changes, citing negotiations with Mr. Trump at the president's Mar-a-Lago club in Florida alongside Rep. Mark Meadows, North Carolina Republican who leads the conservative House Freedom Caucus.