Senate

McConnell vows Senate will take up ObamaCare repeal next week

Top Senate Republicans said Tuesday that they want to pass legislation to repeal and replace ObamaCare next week, despite deep divisions over the House bill. 
 
“We will reach a conclusion on healthcare next week because we’re going to Judge Gorsuch the week after that,” Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters, asked if he thought the current timeline is realistic. “We’ll try to move it across the floor next week.” 
 
{mosads}House Republican leaders are struggling to win support for their legislation repealing ObamaCare ahead of a vote scheduled for Thursday. Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the leader of the House Freedom Caucus, said Tuesday that his caucus has the votes to block the House repeal and replacement bill.

In the Senate, six Republicans have announced opposition to the bill, which faces an uphill climb to get to 51 votes. 

Because the legislation is being considered under special budgetary rules, it cannot be filibustered.
 
The remarks from McConnell and other Senate Republicans could be interpreted as being meant to help Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and other House GOP leaders.
 
By vowing to bring up the bill next week, McConnell is taking head-on suggestions that the House legislation could be dead on arrival in the Senate. 
 
Republicans have pledged to roll back the Affordable Care Act for years, and McConnell argued Tuesday that GOP lawmakers have a “strong obligation” to follow up on that promise. Under the Senate’s rules, lawmakers will be able to offer changes to the House bill during a marathon session known as votearama. 
 
Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) said Tuesday that despite changes to the House bill, they are still opposed to the legislation. 

“Despite the proposed amendments, I still cannot support the House healthcare bill, nor would it pass the Senate,” Cotton said in a statement.

Asked if the House bill could clear the Senate next week, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), a key GOP vote, noted that it still needs to pass the House.  

Told by reporters about leadership’s timeline, she paused before adding: “Wow. … Pretty aggressive.”

McConnell downplayed signs of division amongst Republicans, chalking it up to a “full display” of the “legislative process.” 

“I’m not going to comment on every single episode along the way. … You guys will be able to write a lot of stories,” he said. “We’re not slowing down.”

The Senate is scheduled to leave for Easter recess on April 7, leaving little time for action on Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch’s nomination and heatlhcare.

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) told NBC News that he “would like more time to consider” the House bill.

 

 

Tags Lisa Murkowski Mike Lee Mitch McConnell Paul Ryan Tom Cotton

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