Week ahead: GOP leaders hope to keep momentum for ObamaCare repeal

Week ahead: GOP leaders hope to keep momentum for ObamaCare repeal
© Greg Nash

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellTrump’s isolation grows Ellison: Trump has 'level of sympathy' for neo-Nazis, white supremacists Trump touts endorsement of second-place finisher in Alabama primary MORE (R-Ky.) was forced to delay a planned vote on the GOP ObamaCare repeal and replace bill initially planned for this week.

McConnell put off the vote after Sen. John McCainJohn McCainBush biographer: Trump has moved the goalpost for civilized society White House to pressure McConnell on ObamaCare McCain: Trump needs to state difference between bigots and those fighting hate MORE (R-Ariz.) on Saturday announced he would be out for the week as he recovers from a surgery. McCain's absence left Republicans without the votes needed to advance the legislation.

Leaders could face a tough task keeping their momentum. Republicans already have little room for error as they try to get a repeal bill to President Trump's desk.

A revised draft released Thursday didn't make any changes to the bill's Medicaid cuts and the rollback of ObamaCare's expansion of the program, meaning several moderates still aren't ready to support the bill. 

McConnell met with Republican Sens. Lisa MurkowskiLisa MurkowskiFeds to sell 14 million barrels from oil reserve Immigration battlefield widens for Trump, GOP Trump barrage stuns McConnell and his allies MORE (Ala.), Dean HellerDean HellerWhy 'cherry-picking' is the solution to our nation’s flood insurance disaster Club for Growth endorses Nicholson in Wisconsin GOP primary Sen. Heller reveals: I voted for Trump MORE (Nev.), Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Moore CapitoNo. 2 Senate Republican backs McConnell in Trump fight The fight to protect the Affordable Care Act isn’t over Will Congress preserve monopoly power for healthcare lobbyists? MORE (W.Va.) and Rob PortmanRob PortmanCongress should think twice on the Israel Anti-Boycott Act Senators push for possible FCC enforcement over Lifeline fraud The fight to protect the Affordable Care Act isn’t over MORE (Ohio) to discuss Medicaid Thursday afternoon but it's unclear if they made any progress. 

Leaders don't have a vote to spare on the motion to proceed after two Republicans, Sens. Susan CollinsSusan CollinsOPINION: Congress should censure Trump for his unfit conduct No. 2 Senate Republican backs McConnell in Trump fight The fight to protect the Affordable Care Act isn’t over MORE (Maine) and Rand PaulRand PaulCurtis wins GOP primary for House seat vacated by Jason Chaffetz Glimmer of hope in bipartisan criminal justice reform effort Trump barrage stuns McConnell and his allies MORE (Ky.) said they will vote against it

The two on Sunday expressed pessimism that the bill would pass the upper chamber.

It's unclear how McConnell will try to win over the moderates. If he makes any more concessions, he could lose the support of conservatives who came on board after the GOP leader added an amendment from Sen. Ted CruzTed CruzThe media couldn't be more blatant in distorting Trump's words on Charlottesville Curtis wins GOP primary for House seat vacated by Jason Chaffetz Kimmel: Let’s make Trump a king so he has no power MORE (Texas).

Any further changes would also need analyzed by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), potentially delaying the vote even further in the face of pressure from the White House. 

A CBO score on the revised bill was expected Monday, but will also be delayed.

Moderates have also been leery of Cruz's amendment, which would allow insurers to sell plans that don't comply with ObamaCare's strict insurer requirements.

These plans would be cheaper but cover less and appeal to younger, healthy people who don't use as much healthcare. 

A condition of offering these plans is insurers must also sell plans that meet ObamaCare requirements.

These plans would likely become much more expensive than they are now since less healthy people and more sick people will purchase them, experts and insurers say. 

The conclusion from the CBO could be the determining factor on how Republican holdouts vote and the delayed vote could give the scorekeeper more time to review the Cruz amendment.

Republicans are facing pressure from the White House to pass repeal before the August recess, which McConnell has already delayed for two weeks in the Senate. 

Trump said Friday in a tweet that Senate Republicans "must come through as they have promised" on repeal.

Lawmakers will also be busy working on spending bills in the coming week.

The House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday will mark up the fiscal 2018 Health and Human Services Budget, which includes a  $1.1 billion funding bump for the National Institutes of Health (NIH.)

Also on Capitol Hill, the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing called "Examining Bipartisan Legislation to improve the Medicare Program" Thursday at 10 a.m.


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