No. 2 Senate Republican: 'No timeline' on ObamaCare replacement bill
© Greg Nash

Senate Republicans are signaling they are in no hurry to move legislation to repeal and replace ObamaCare after it passed the House Thursday.

“There is no timeline,” Sen. John CornynJohn CornynNew GOP ObamaCare repeal bill gains momentum Week ahead: Senators near deal to stabilize ObamaCare markets GOP eying 'blue slip' break to help Trump fill the courts MORE (Texas), the Senate’s No. 2 Republican, said when he was asked about a schedule for when the Senate could move a bill.

Asked if action during the current work period running through the end of the month was “realistic,” he added: “There is no timeline. When we get 51 senators, we’ll vote.”

The House narrowly passed legislation, the American Health Care Act,  in a 217-213 vote, fulfilling a years-long pledge and sending the bill to the Senate.

ADVERTISEMENT
Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntTop Senate Dem: We're going forward with understanding we can work with White House on DACA Sunday shows preview: Trump officials gear up for UN assembly Air Force One is Trump’s new boardroom MORE (R-Mo.), a member of GOP leadership, also signaled that Republicans are focused on getting a deal that can pass rather than sticking to a specific timeline.

“I can’t imagine there will be a rush to take up the bill as much as a real concentrated effort to find where the 51 votes might be if the 51 votes are still available,” he told reporters.  

The House GOP bill is expected to have to undergo significant changes in the upper chamber to meet budgetary rules that would allow it to block a Democratic filibuster.

Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyGrassley: 'Good chance' Senate panel will consider bills to protect Mueller Overnight Finance: CBO to release limited analysis of ObamaCare repeal bill | DOJ investigates Equifax stock sales | House weighs tougher rules for banks dealing with North Korea GOP state lawmakers meet to plan possible constitutional convention MORE (R-Iowa), the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said he had been asked if lawmakers would be able to pass a bill by June 19 — a key date for insurance companies — but couldn't commit to the timeline.

“I said there’s no assurance I can give you from a substance standpoint or a process standpoint for when that’s going to happen because there’s been such little discussion,” he said.

McConnell has convened a working group of senators as they look for legislation that could pass the upper chamber. Cornyn noted the group met for a second time on Thursday. Lawmakers could also need to go a conference with the House to work out their differences, which would drag out the process.

The hedging on a timeline for the Senate comes after Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamTop Louisiana health official rips Cassidy over ObamaCare repeal bill Senate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions MORE (R-S.C.) raised concerns about the rapid pace the House took to pass the legislation. The House voted on the bill even though it did not have a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) score.

Several moderate GOP senators came out against an initial version of the House bill that was pulled from the floor in March, over concerns about what happens in their states to ObamaCare’s expansion of Medicaid, the federal low-income healthcare program.

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Ryan: Graham-Cassidy 'best, last chance' to repeal ObamaCare Collins skeptical of new ObamaCare repeal effort MORE (R-Maine) urged her colleagues to not move health legislation quickly.

“I think we should take as long as necessary to do the job right, and we certainly need the CBO analysis on the impact of cost and coverage...before we can produce our own bill,” she told reporters.

GOP Sen. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerSenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Lawmakers grapple with warrantless wiretapping program Overnight Health Care: New GOP ObamaCare repeal bill gains momentum MORE (Nev.), the Senate’s most vulnerable Republican up for reelection, and Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanWeek ahead in tech: Debate over online sex trafficking bill heats up 'Hillbilly Elegy' author won't run for Senate Brown, Portman urge Trump administration to move quickly on a steel decision MORE (Ohio) reiterated after the Thursday vote that they could not support the House bill in its current form.