GOP senators pitch alternatives after House pulls ObamaCare repeal bill

Greg Nash

Republican senators are pitching their own plans for repealing and replacing ObamaCare after their House counterparts pulled their bill on Friday afternoon. 

But the initial responses from GOP senators appeared to underscore the differences that could divide the caucus moving forward. 
GOP Sens. Rand Paul (Ky.) and Mike Lee (Utah) quickly advocated for a bill that could pass along party lines with only GOP support. 
“We will begin working collaboratively here in the Senate and with our friends in the House to produce a bill that will get 51 votes in the Senate and 216 in the House,” Lee said in a statement. 
{mosads}Paul separately predicted that they would soon take up “full repeal,” praising House conservatives for rejecting “ObamaCare Lite.”
Paul and the House Freedom Caucus have introduced legislation that would mirror a 2015 bill that cleared Congress but was vetoed by President Obama.
That bill would effectively separate repealing ObamaCare from replacing it and would likely draw pushback from some moderate lawmakers. 
Meanwhile, GOP Sens. Chuck Grassley (Iowa) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.) pointed to working with Democrats as a potential path forward. 
Graham said while Democrats are currently declaring victory, they will be “Extreme-O sad” if ObamaCare collapses. 
“When it does hope R’s and D’s work together for USA,” he tweeted.
Grassley pointed to an alternative bill from GOP Sens. Bill Cassidy (La.) and Susan Collins (Maine), which would let states keep ObamaCare if they want to, as a possible bipartisan alternative.
He added that “major social policy change in US must be bipartisan.”
Senate GOP leadership signaled ahead of Friday’s move that they weren’t preparing an alternative if the House failed to pass its legislation. 

“I’m not aware of any backup plan,” Sen. John Cornyn (Texas), the Senate’s No. 2 Republican, told The Hill. “I think our plan B is the same as our plan A.” 

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) also gave no hint after the House pulled its legislation that the Senate would try to move a healthcare bill of its own. 

“Obamacare is failing the American people and I deeply appreciate the efforts of the Speaker and the president to keep our promise to repeal and replace it,” he said in a statement. “I share their disappointment that this effort came up short.”

Tags Chuck Grassley John Cornyn Lindsey Graham Mike Lee Mitch McConnell Rand Paul Susan Collins

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