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Rebecca Zisser / Axios

This is the week we'll learn whether Mitch McConnell can pull a rabbit out of a hat. His challenge: Tweak his health care bill enough to win over wavering moderates — including Susan Collins, Lisa Murkoswki — without losing any more conservatives on top of Rand Paul.

It won't be easy. Some of the things each camp wants are in direct conflict: Some of the moderates want to ease off the bill's Medicaid cuts; that could draw new conservative opponents out of the woodwork. Collins wants to strip anti-Planned Parenthood language; Ted Cruz and Mike Lee wouldn't like that.

What to expect this week, per Jonathan Swan and Caitlin Owens:

  • CBO score, along with a very slightly modified version of the bill, will likely be released today.
  • Final bill, reflecting any more last-minute horse-trading likely released on Wednesday.
  • Vote to proceed to the bill is also likely on Wednesday. If McConnell hasn't lined up 50 votes on the bill itself, there's a chance the procedural vote could fail, and it'd be a shorter week than we thought.
  • But, assuming the vote to proceed is successful, a vote-a-rama on the Senate floor looks like it'll begin sometime Thursday.
  • With 20 hours of debate, that could push the final vote into the late night or early morning, if not into the weekend (depending on how things shake out earlier in the week).

Who to watch: Mike Allen's sources rank the likeliest defections in this order: Collins, Paul, Lee, Dean Heller, Murkowski, Cory Gardner, Ron Johnson, Cruz.

It all depends how McConnell tries to win over each of those votes. Back too far off the bill's Medicaid cuts in an effort appease Heller or Shelley Moore Capito, and he'd risk bringing Tom Cotton into the "questionable" column. Giving Cruz and Lee too much on social issues would make Collins and Murkowski less likely to go along at the end of the day (and vice versa).

"It really is a 747 landing on a suburban driveway," former McConnell chief of staff Josh Holmes told Swan.

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus cases rose 10% in the week before Thanksgiving.
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York coronavirus restrictions.
  3. World: Expert says COVID vaccine likely won't be available in Africa until Q2 of 2021 — Europeans extend lockdowns.
  4. Economy: The winners and losers of the COVID holiday season.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.
3 hours ago - Health

Standardized testing becomes another pandemic victim

Photo: Edmund D. Fountain for The Washington Post via Getty

National standardized reading and math tests have been pushed from next year to 2022, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) announced Wednesday.

Why it matters: There’s mounting national evidence that students are suffering major setbacks this year, with a surge in the number of failing grades.

4 hours ago - World

European countries extend lockdowns

A medical worker takes a COVID-19 throat swab sample at the Berlin-Brandenburg Airport. Photo by Maja Hitij via Getty

Recent spikes in COVID-19 infections across Europe have led authorities to extend restrictions ahead of the holiday season.

Why it matters: "Relaxing too fast and too much is a risk for a third wave after Christmas," said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.