With the Spotlight Elsewhere GOP Leaders Have Advanced Repeal and Replace to Critical Point.

Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy says that Thursday “may have been my best day as a senator.” If you’re not a fan of repealing and replacing Obamacare, then that’s bad news.

Cassidy, a co-author of the GOP’s last-ditch effort to fulfill its health care promise ahead of its Sept. 30 parliamentary deadline, told reporters Friday morning that “we’re probably at 48-49 [votes] and talking to two or three more,” according to the Hill. “I am pretty confident we’ll get there on the Republican side,” he added.

One lesson I’ve learned covering this never-ending repeal-and-replace effort is that Bill Cassidy does not always know as much as he thinks he does. Another is that a whole lot of Republican health care bills can get 48 votes, but none so far has been able to get 50. There are your two caveats. And yet, this sudden push for Graham-Cassidy—something that did not exist within the Senate Republican caucus even a few days ago—appears to be the real thing.

They have two weeks.

Senate leaders, who had been keeping their hands clean of this latest effort, are now all in. (It’s now technically Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson, but we’ll stick with the short version, because give me a break.) Majority Whip John Cornyn is whipping the votes, and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has asked the Congressional Budget Office to quickly produce a score. The Senate GOP’s Thursday lunch was the pep rally the bill needed, the apex of the best day of Cassidy’s senatorial tenure.

Though the votes aren’t there yet, and the Senate would still have to move fast by Senate standards to muscle this through, the renewed energy has caught Democrats’ attention. Staffers tell me they’re now taking the threat seriously.

(Via Slate)