GOP senator: Not 'appropriate' to repeal ObamaCare without replacement
© Greg Nash

Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanCommittee chairman aims for House vote on opioid bills by Memorial Day Flake to try to force vote on DACA stopgap plan Congress punts fight over Dreamers to March MORE (R-Ohio) does not support leadership's plan to try to repeal ObamaCare without a replacement.

“I have said consistently that I support repeal and replace, and I’m not giving up on doing both of those things. I don’t think it’s appropriate just to repeal, we’ve also got to put a replacement in place," Portman told Ohio reporters during a Tuesday conference call.

Portman is the fourth GOP senator to push back against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellLawmakers feel pressure on guns Bipartisan group of House lawmakers urge action on Export-Import Bank nominees Curbelo Dem rival lashes out over immigration failure MORE's (R-Ky.) gambit to try to repeal ObamaCare now and give lawmakers two years to hash out a replacement.

GOP Sens. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiThe siren of Baton Rouge Interior plan to use drilling funds for new projects met with skepticism The 14 GOP senators who voted against Trump’s immigration framework MORE (Alaska), Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoAt least Alzheimer’s research is bringing Washington together Overnight Tech: Intel chief says 'no doubt' Russia will meddle in midterms | Dems press FCC over net neutrality comments | Bill aims to bridge rural-urban digital divide | FCC to review rules on children's TV Senators offer bill to close rural-urban internet divide MORE (W.Va.) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Tech: Judge blocks AT&T request for DOJ communications | Facebook VP apologizes for tweets about Mueller probe | Tech wants Treasury to fight EU tax proposal Overnight Regulation: Trump to take steps to ban bump stocks | Trump eases rules on insurance sold outside of ObamaCare | FCC to officially rescind net neutrality Thursday | Obama EPA chief: Reg rollback won't stand FCC to officially rescind net neutrality rules on Thursday MORE (Maine) said earlier Tuesday that they would vote against proceeding to the House-passed bill being used as a vehicle for any Senate repeal action.

Portman, in comments from the call released by his office, didn't say whether he would vote against taking up the House healthcare bill.

GOP leadership signaled Tuesday that they would try to take up the House bill, even though it appears they don't currently have the support to overcome an initial procedural hurdle.

With a slim 52-seat majority, McConnell can only afford to lose two GOP senators and still let Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceNorth Korea canceled secret meeting with Pence at Olympics Judicial order in Flynn case prompts new round of scrutiny The CIA may need to call White House to clarify Russia meddling MORE break a tie.

He noted that his state has been hard-hit by ObamaCare and said he hopes his colleagues will keep working toward a replacement plan that could pass.

"There’s an urgency here for Ohio, and the best approach I think is to continue to work with my colleagues in the hopes that we can come together around a replacement plan that actually works to address these problems. These are real problems and we can’t ignore them," he said.

The Senate previously passed a repeal-only bill in 2015 in a 52-47 vote, with Collins and then-Sen. Mark KirkMark Steven KirkHigh stakes as Trump heads to Hill Five things to watch for at Trump-Senate GOP meeting Giffords, Scalise highlight party differences on guns MORE (Ill.) being the only Republicans to oppose it.

But GOP lawmakers knew ahead of the vote that then-President Obama would veto the legislation.

GOP leadership initially floated repealing ObamaCare with a delayed replacement as their path forward earlier this year but had to back away amid pushback from moderates.