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Senate GOP aims to vote next week on ObamaCare repeal

Senate GOP aims to vote next week on ObamaCare repeal
© Greg Nash

Senate Republicans plan to try to repeal ObamaCare for a second time next week as Republicans face an end-of-the-month deadline.

“It is the Leader’s intention to consider Graham-Cassidy on the floor next week," said David Popp, a spokesman for Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellRepublicans divided over legislation protecting Mueller The Hill's Morning Report: Inside the Comey memos Democrats mull audacious play to block Pompeo MORE (R-Ky.).

The remarks come after Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamRepublicans divided over legislation protecting Mueller Rand Paul under pressure as Pompeo hunts for votes Dems walk tightrope on Pompeo nomination MORE (R-S.C.) told reporters that his bill with Sen. Bill CassidyWilliam (Bill) Morgan CassidyRepublicans have a long way to go toward fully repealing ObamaCare Senators press administration on mental health parity Longer sentences won’t stop the opioid epidemic MORE (R-La.) would be on the Senate floor next week.

 

Republicans face an end-of-the-month deadline to pass ObamaCare repeal if they want to avoid a Democratic filibuster, which would require 60 votes to break.

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It remains unclear if GOP leadership has the 50 votes needed to let Vice President Pence break a tie and pass a bill.

GOP Sens. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiSenators press administration on mental health parity Overnight Energy: Watchdogs unveil findings on EPA, Interior controversies | GAO says EPA violated law with soundproof booth | IG says Zinke could have avoided charter flight | GOP chair probes Pruitt's four email addresses GOP fractures over push to protect Russia probe MORE (Alaska), John McCainJohn Sidney McCainThe Hill's Morning Report: Inside the Comey memos Democrats mull audacious play to block Pompeo Overnight Defense: Trump steps up fight with California over guard deployment | Heitkamp is first Dem to back Pompeo for State | Dems question legality of Syria strikes MORE (Ariz.) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Energy: Trump NASA pick advances after drama | White House office to investigate Pruitt's soundproof booth | 170 lawmakers call for Pruitt to resign Trump's NASA nominee advances after floor drama Family, friends mourn death of Barbara Bush MORE (Maine) are undecided on the legislation. Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulOvernight Defense: Congress poised for busy week on nominations, defense bill | Trump to deliver Naval Academy commencement speech | Trump administration appeals decision to block suspected combatant's transfer Democrats mull audacious play to block Pompeo Overnight Defense: Trump steps up fight with California over guard deployment | Heitkamp is first Dem to back Pompeo for State | Dems question legality of Syria strikes MORE (R-Ky.) has said he will oppose it.

The Graham-Cassidy bill would repeal much of ObamaCare, ending funding for Medicaid’s expansion and the healthcare law’s subsidies that help people buy insurance. In their place, block grants would be given to states.

Republicans have been frank about the uphill challenge to nixing the Affordable Care Act, and McConnell has held meetings with key members and hold outs in his office. 
 
Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyRepublicans divided over legislation protecting Mueller The Hill's Morning Report: Inside the Comey memos Grassley: McConnell doesn't control my committee MORE (R-Iowa) expressed support for the bill during a call with Iowa reporters on Wednesday, but also appeared skeptical that it could ultimately get the votes to pass. 
 
“No, I think we’re one or two votes short and I don’t see those other one or two votes coming,” he said, according to the Des Moines Register. “I hope I’m wrong.”
 
McConnell's comments are a turnaround from roughly a day ago when he would not publicly commit to bringing the bill to the floor for a vote. 

Asked if he had decided whether or not to bring the ObamaCare repeal bill to the floor, McConnell had told reporters: "We are in the process of discussing all of this."

"If we were going to go forward, we would have to act before September 30th," he added. 

The Senate GOP's effort to repeal ObamaCare was widely considered dead after a failed vote in late July. While President Trump publicly urged them to try again, Republican leadership and many rank-and-file members said they were ready to move on

But momentum has been building behind Graham-Cassidy.

Graham, stepping up his rhetoric as he tries to pitch his colleagues on the legislation, said on Tuesday that it was a choice between "socialism or federalism." 

The White House and House GOP leadership has also thrown their weight behind it, with Trump tweeting on Wednesday that the bill is "great." 

"I hope Republican Senators will vote for Graham-Cassidy and fulfill their promise to Repeal & Replace ObamaCare. Money direct to States!" Trump said.

Other GOP lawmakers have acknowledged that the legislation could represent their last shot at trying to make good on a years-long campaign pledge to repeal and replace ObamaCare. 

"I'm more hopeful now than I have been," Sen. John CornynJohn CornynRepublicans divided over legislation protecting Mueller Democrats mull audacious play to block Pompeo Overnight Energy: Senate confirms Bridenstine as NASA chief | Watchdog probes Pruitt’s use of security detail | Emails shine light on EPA science policy changes MORE (R-Texas), the No. 2 Senate Republican, told reporters on Tuesday. "It's sort of like Lazarus raised from the dead."

 
Though ObamaCare is deeply unpopular throughout the Senate GOP caucus, leadership is facing a similar problem to the one that ultimately sank their effort in July. 
 
With a slim 52-seat majority, Republicans need to find a bill that can win over all but two of their caucus, which includes a coalition of moderates as well as conservatives and libertarian-leaning firebrands. 
 
Any push to move legislation toward one wing of the party over the other could threaten support in other factions. 

This story was edited at 2:35 p.m.