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Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) in the background, in February 2018. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Six Republican senators, five of whom are up for re-election in 2020, sided with Democrats on Thursday in a procedural vote to block the Trump administration from supporting a lawsuit that would dismantle the Affordable Care Act.

Why it matters: The final vote on the motion was 51-43, failing to reach the necessary 60-vote threshold to pass. But the move by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) forced several vulnerable GOP senators to go on the record on whether they support the lawsuit, which could strip protections from pre-existing conditions for millions of Americans.

The state of play: Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) and Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) all voted with Democrats and are facing close re-election fights. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) also voted in favor.

  • Sens. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.) are facing tough re-election races, but voted against the motion.

Flashback: All six GOP senators who supported Thursday's bill voted for the 2017 tax bill that set the latest Supreme Court challenge to the Affordable Care Act in motion.

Of note: Four of the Republicans to break rank were women — nearly half of the nine female GOP senators in Congress.

  • While Murkowski is not up for re-election until 2022, she opposed President Trump on quickly confirming a Supreme Court judge to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and has publicly opposed the Trump administration on several occasions.

Go deeper

Manchin says he will "absolutely not" support $2,000 stimulus checks as first priority

Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) told the Washington Post Friday that he would "absolutely not" support passing a round of $2,000 stimulus checks as a first priority, a key component of President-elect Joe Biden's economic revival plans.

The latest: A spokesperson clarified Manchin's comments after the Post story published Friday, saying the senator is not drawing a red line against $2,000 checks — only that it should be the first priority, as Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer has stated.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
3 hours ago - Health

Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden has picked former FDA chief David Kessler to lead Operation Warp Speed, a day after unveiling a nearly $2 trillion pandemic relief plan that includes $400 billion for directly combatting the virus.

Why it matters: Biden's transition team said Kessler has been advising the president-elect since the beginning of the pandemic, and hopes his involvement will help accelerate vaccination, the New York Times reports. Operation Warp Speed's current director, Moncef Slaoui, will stay on as a consultant.

The case of the missing relief money

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A chunk of stimulus payments is missing in action, thanks to a mix up that put as many as 13 million checks into invalid bank accounts.

Why it matters: The IRS (by law) was supposed to get all payments out by Friday. Now the onus could shift to Americans to claim the money on their tax refund — further delaying relief to struggling, lower-income Americans.