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 McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell expects Paul to return to Senate next week Former Hill staff calls for mandatory harassment training Gaming the odds of any GOP tax bill getting signed into law 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 Sidney McCainGOP rushes to cut ties to Moore GOP strategist: 'There needs to be a repudiation' of Roy Moore by Republicans World leaders reach agreement on trade deal without United States: report 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 Ann MurkowskiMoore digs in amid mounting GOP criticism Republicans float pushing back Alabama special election Moore defends himself as pressure mounts MORE (Ala.), Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerBipartisan group of lawmakers aim to reform US sugar program Dem donor on MSNBC: 'Hopefully we'll get our sh-- together' The Hill interview — DNC chief: I came here to win elections MORE (Nev.), Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Moore CapitoSenators push mandatory sexual harassment training for members, staff Senate GOP: We are unified on controversial tax policy change Senate Dems want B to address opioid epidemic MORE (W.Va.) and Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanSenate GOP reveals different approach on tax reform GOP senators: Moore should step aside if allegations true Senate set for clash with House on tax bill 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 Margaret CollinsBipartisan group of lawmakers aim to reform US sugar program A bipartisan bridge opens between the House and Senate Gaming the odds of any GOP tax bill getting signed into law MORE (Maine) and Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulGOP senator asks to be taken off Moore fundraising appeals Red state lawmakers find blue state piggy bank Prosecutors tell Paul to expect federal charges against attacker: report 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 CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOvernight Finance: GOP criticism of tax bill grows, but few no votes | Highlights from day two of markup | House votes to overturn joint-employer rule | Senate panel approves North Korean banking sanctions GOP criticism of tax bill grows, but few ready to vote against it Anti-gay marriage county clerk Kim Davis to seek reelection in Kentucky 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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