McConnell: ObamaCare repeal isn't dead
© Greg Nash
 
"No, no, we're continuing to talk about it. It's a very complicated subject. I remember how challenging it was for the Democrats," he told reporters on Tuesday afternoon, when asked if it was "dead."
 
"We're still optimistic we're going to get there." 
 
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McConnell's remarks came after Republicans huddled in a closed-door meeting for the first time since the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) predicted on Monday evening that the Senate bill would result in an additional 22 million people becoming uninsured by 2026. 
 
McConnell confirmed that the Senate wouldn't take up the legislation before lawmakers leave for a week-long break, but said GOP senators will "continue the discussions within our conference about the differences that we have." 
 
The decision to kick the can on the healthcare legislation until next month came after top GOP senators signaled — as recently as earlier Tuesday — that they expected an initial vote to take place on Wednesday. But pushback from several senators appeared too great to overcome this week. 
 
McConnell has a narrow path for clearing a healthcare bill. With 52 seats, he can only afford to lose two GOP senators and still rely on Vice President Pence to break a tie. 
 
Before the lunch, four senators had said they would not support an initial vote on the bill, while five have said they couldn't support the bill on a final vote. 
 
GOP senators will head to the White House to meet with Trump on Tuesday afternoon, a move McConnell predicted would be helpful. 
 
"It's an ongoing discussion. Members have — several of them want more time," he said. 
 
Democrats quickly claimed victory on the discussion, but urged supporters to keep up pressure on a handful of undecided GOP senators over the upcoming recess.