We thought they didn't have the votes, but it turns out they really don't have the votes. Today, the Senate Parliamentarian ruled that several of Trumpcare's provisions are in violation of the Byrd Rule, which means that they now require 60 votes—rather than a simple majority—to pass.
Among them? The infamous provision defunding Planned Parenthood and two provisions preventing premium tax credits and small business tax credits from being applied to insurance that covers abortion.
You can see a full list here.
Vox has a good breakdown of the Byrd Rule, which applies to the GOP health care bill because they're passing it through budget reconciliation:
Reconciliation was designed to make sure the Senate could more easily pass bills dealing with the federal budget, particularly if Congress wanted to reduce the deficit, without the threat of a filibuster from the minority party. (The process begins with a congressional resolution instructing committees in the House and the Senate to draw up legislation that saves the federal government a set amount of money.) So the special privileges under reconciliation come with conditions.
Those conditions, meant to make sure reconciliation is actually used for bills that affect the budget, are one of the final obstacles for the GOP’s repeal-and-replace effort will have to overcome.
It's not totally clear how Republicans are going to react to this—the right wing is currently touting the news as a blow to anti-choice activists, but beyond that, who knows? Will they try to drum up 60 votes to keep in the provisions found in violation of the Byrd Rule? Will they strike those from the bill and try to pass it in a truncated form? What we do know is that the Republicans were struggling this week to get the simple majority (50) needed to bring the bill to the floor, so obtaining 60 votes—even just for a few provisions—seems like a near impossibility at this point.
Politics: It has rules. God I love the rule of law.