Senate won't vote on ObamaCare repeal bill

Senate Republicans have decided to not vote on their latest ObamaCare repeal legislation, signaling a collapse in their last-ditch effort to kill off President Obama's signature law.

"We don't have the votes so it's probably best we don't do the vote," said Sen. Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesSanders: Public should be ‘very concerned’ about election security in 2018 Senate Democrats block resolution supporting ICE Republican bill aims to deter NATO members from using Russian pipeline MORE (R-Mont.) after the GOP conference met at its regular weekly luncheon. "We've lost this battle, but we're going to win the war."

The last-ditch bill sponsored by Sens. Bill CassidyWilliam (Bill) Morgan CassidyEnergy Department clears ‘small-scale’ natural gas exports for fast approval GOP senators introduce resolution endorsing ICE Lawmakers pitch dueling plans for paid family leave MORE (R-La.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSenate gets to work in August — but many don’t show up Graham: Flynn should lose security clearance Press needs to restore its credibility on FBI and Justice Department MORE (R-S.C.) would dismantle ObamaCare’s insurance subsidy program and Medicaid expansion and convert their funding into block grants to states. 

"We don't have the votes," Cassidy acknowledged after meeting with his colleagues on Tuesday for more than an hour.

"We made the decision since we don't have the votes, we're going to postpone it," he added, expressing disappointment.

Graham said the health care debate will resume after Congress tries to move a tax reform package and expressed confidence his bill will eventually muster 50 votes.

"It's not if, only a matter of when," he said, adding that with more "attention" and "time," the bill could eventually become law.

In the meantime, Graham and Cassidy plan to tour the country to build support.

"We're going to take our show on the road," Graham said.

Graham and Cassidy came a lot closer to success than many would have anticipated just two weeks ago.

In the end, they couldn't convince several of their colleagues, conservatives and centrists alike, to go along with their plan.

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsWhite House weighs clawing back State, foreign aid funding The Hill's Morning Report: Dems have a majority in the Senate (this week) Overnight Defense: Pompeo creates 'action group' for Iran policy | Trump escalates intel feud | Report pegs military parade cost at M MORE (R-Maine) delivered the final death blow on Monday, announcing she could not support the bill because of its cuts to Medicaid and its lack of protections for people with pre-existing conditions, a big issue that the late-night host Jimmy Kimmel used to criticize the bill. 

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulHillicon Valley: Trump escalates feud with intel critics | Tesla shares fall after troubling Musk interview | House panel considers subpoena for Twitter's Jack Dorsey | Why Turkish citizens are breaking their iPhones Overnight Defense: Trump cancels military parade, blames DC for cost | DC mayor hits back | Pentagon warns China 'likely' training for strikes against US | Turkey refuses to release US pastor On Russia we need diplomacy, not just sanctions MORE (R-Ky.) was also a "no" vote. He said the bill would have left too much of ObamaCare in place.

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainThe Hill's 12:30 Report Senate gets to work in August — but many don’t show up Rand Paul’s Russia visit displays advancement of peace through diplomacy MORE (R-Ariz.) said he would be voting no on Friday, in large part because of a process he said was rushed and excluded Democrats. 

It was also unclear if Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzBeto O’Rourke: Term limits can help keep politicians from turning into a--holes Election Countdown: GOP worries House majority endangered by top of ticket | Dems make history in Tuesday's primaries | Parties fight for Puerto Rican vote in Florida | GOP lawmakers plan 'Freedom Tour' Former spokeswoman defends Trump calling Omarosa ‘dog’: He’s called men dogs MORE (R-Texas) would vote for the bill.

After the decision to not hold the vote, he said there was more work to be done.

"I think we're close and we need to continue working," he said. 

The rush on the Graham-Cassidy bill came in part because of a Sept. 30 deadline for using budgetary rules that prevented Democrats from filibustering the legislation.

Collins (Maine) urged colleagues to resume bipartisan negotiations in the Senate Health Committee between Chairman Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderGovernor's race grabs spotlight in Tennessee primaries A single courageous senator can derail the Trump administration GOP worries trade wars will last as Trump engages in temporary tiffs MORE (R-Tenn.) and Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayGOP leader criticizes Republican senators for not showing up to work Senate Dems press Sessions for records on racial discrimination complaints Dem senators introduce resolution calling on Trump to stop attacking the press MORE (D-Wash.).

“I think the best route is for us to resume the hearings in the HELP [Health, Education, Labor and Pensions] Committee that we were doing before we were diverted by Graham-Cassidy,” Collins told reporters. 

She said “it would be helpful if the vice president outlined his support for resuming the hearings in the HELP Committee and the negotiations that were making such good progress,” ahead of a Republican lunch with Vice President Mike Pence.

Sen. James LankfordJames Paul LankfordHillicon Valley: Trump escalates feud with intel critics | Tesla shares fall after troubling Musk interview | House panel considers subpoena for Twitter's Jack Dorsey | Why Turkish citizens are breaking their iPhones Hillicon Valley: FBI fires Strzok after anti-Trump tweets | Trump signs defense bill with cyber war policy | Google under scrutiny over location data | Sinclair's troubles may just be beginning | Tech to ease health data access | Netflix CFO to step down House Intel lawmakers introduce bipartisan election security bill MORE (R-Okla.) said Senate Republicans should “continue to negotiate until we get it solved."

But Lankford does not want the health-care debate combined with the upcoming tax-reform debate.

Instead, he said that colleagues should continue to negotiate behind the scenes on replacing ObamaCare while a projected $1.5 trillion tax package takes center stage. 

“We need to keep the two separate but both have to keep going,” he said. “You can’t not do health-care issues when everybody around the country are facing double-digit [premium] increases and hospitals are merging,” he said. 

“Keep working behind the scenes until we get it resolved and ready for the floor.”

There had been talk about including ObamaCare repeal in a new budget reconciliation measure that has been planned for tax reform. That would allow both ObamaCare repeal and tax reform to be brought up under special rues that would prevent a filibuster.

But that would also put tax reform at risk by pairing the issue with health care, and a number of key Republicans, including Cornyn and House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), voiced opposition to that plan on Tuesday.

Nathaniel Weixel and Jordain Carney contributed to this story.