Cruz pushes to revisit ObamaCare repeal this year

Cruz pushes to revisit ObamaCare repeal this year
© Greg Nash

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzWashington needs to end hidden inflation tax on our capital gains GOP tax writer introduces bill to reduce capital gains taxes Senators push to clear backlog in testing rape kits MORE (R-Texas) said Wednesday that he is pushing to revisit the repeal of ObamaCare this year.

Cruz told reporters that he thinks GOP leadership is interested "if we can get 50 votes."

"We have to bring the conference together to be able to move forward," he added.

ObamaCare repeal has largely faded as a GOP priority. Republican leadership has not expressed interest in diving back into the fight, given that it failed last year and there is no indication that the votes have shifted in the Senate. Senate leaders instead have said they want to focus on bipartisan issues this year.

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Additionally, GOP leaders hardly discussed the issue of ObamaCare repeal at a retreat at Camp David this month to discuss the 2018 agenda.

Still, some, like Cruz and Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamQuestions mount over Trump-Putin discussions The Hill's Morning Report — Trump and Congress at odds over Russia Overnight Defense: Trump inviting Putin to DC | Senate to vote Monday on VA pick | Graham open to US-Russia military coordination in Syria MORE (R-S.C.), are pushing to revisit the issue.

"I don't think leadership is interested in going down this road again until we can get 50 votes and so we need to do the hard work of bringing the rest of the conference together," Cruz said Wednesday. "I think we're still quite close."

He said he has been "speaking with a wide number of senators" about refocusing on the repeal of ObamaCare.

Cruz told the Washington Examiner earlier on Wednesday that he wants to set up the fast-track process known as reconciliation this year to allow legislation to repeal ObamaCare to pass with a simple majority. 

That process requires approving a budget first, however, and even that is seriously in doubt given the midterm elections later this year.

Asked about Cruz's comments, Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiThis week: GOP mulls vote on ‘abolish ICE’ legislation Dem infighting erupts over Supreme Court pick McConnell: Senate to confirm Kavanaugh by Oct. 1 MORE (R-Alaska), a key "no" vote on repeal last year, dismissed the idea.

"I don't think we should be spending time trying to do repeal and replace of ObamaCare," Murkowski told reporters.

Updated at 2:09 p.m.