Rand Paul predicts House GOP will pull ObamaCare repeal bill, start over
© Greg Nash

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulSenate passes 6B defense bill This week: House GOP caught in immigration limbo Amendments fuel resentments within Senate GOP MORE (R-Ky.) said Tuesday that absent a last-minute deal, he believes House GOP leadership will scrap its current bill to repeal and replace ObamaCare and start over.  

"I think there’s easily 35 'no' votes right now, so unless something happens in the next 24 hours, I would predict they pull the bill and start over," Paul told the conservative website Breitbart News. 
 
House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanTrump digs in amid uproar on zero tolerance policy Mark Sanford’s troubles did not begin with Trump NY Post blasts Trump, GOP over separating families at border MORE (R-Wis.) will need 216 votes, a simple majority, to pass the House bill during a vote expected on Thursday. It remains unclear if leadership has the votes, with Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the leader of the conservative Freedom Caucus, telling reporters that his members can block the bill. 
 
Paul, who was an early and vocal critic of the House legislation, added that if conservatives are able to foil the current proposal, "they will have earned a seat at the table where real negotiation to make this bill an acceptable bill will happen."
 
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House leadership rolled out changes to its bill on Monday night aimed at winning over more GOP votes, but Paul said the revisions weren't enough to ensure passage of the bill, which he called "ObamaCare lite." 
 
"I think what it will be is the real negotiations will begin the moment his bill fails, and when his bill fails conservatives will have a seat at the table," he told Breitbart. 
 
Paul's comments are in contrast to remarks earlier Tuesday from Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate passes 6B defense bill Poll: Kim Jong Un has higher approval among Republicans than Pelosi The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — Outcry raises pressure on GOP for immigration fix MORE (R-Ky.). The Senate's top Republican vowed that the upper chamber was prepared to take up the legislation next week, a move that could help Ryan shore up support in the House. 
 
"We will reach a conclusion on healthcare next week because we're going to [Supreme Court nominee] Judge [Neil] Gorsuch the week after that," McConnell told reporters when asked if he thought the current timeline is realistic. "We'll try to move it across the floor next week." 
 
Top Senate Republicans have previously signaled that they intended to use next week to pass the repeal-and-replace bill.
 
But the House proposal doesn't appear to have the votes to pass the Senate. 
 
Six senators have said they can't support the House bill without changes and that they should slow down and take more time to work out a deal. 
 
With a 52-seat majority, McConnell can only afford to lose two GOP senators and still pass the legislation through the Senate. 
 
But McConnell downplayed signs of division, saying it was part of the "legislative process" and that senators would be able to make additional changes once the bill reaches the Senate. 
 
"I'm not going to comment on every single episode along the way. ... You guys will be able to write a lot of stories," he said. "We're not slowing down."