Cruz, McConnell huddle with healthcare vote looming
© Victoria Sarno Jordan

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzTrump-backed Hagerty wins Tennessee GOP Senate primary The Hill's Campaign Report: Trump's visit to battleground Ohio overshadowed by coronavirus The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the Air Line Pilots Association - Key 48 hours loom as negotiators push for relief deal MORE (R-Texas) huddled in Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellCoronavirus talks on life support as parties dig in, pass blame Jobs report poised to light fire under COVID-19 talks Overnight Health Care: Ohio governor tests positive for COVID-19 ahead of Trump's visit | US shows signs of coronavirus peak, but difficult days lie ahead | Trump: COVID-19 vaccine may be ready 'right around' Election Day MORE's office on Tuesday as GOP leadership searches for votes on its bill to repeal and replace ObamaCare.

Cruz said after the powwow that he and the Kentucky Republican are having "productive conversations," but his focus remains on lowering premiums.

"There are a host of specific reforms that the working group has been discussing for five months now, and we continue to discuss those various reforms," Cruz told reporters, emerging from McConnell's office after roughly 45 minutes.

Pressed if he's still a "no" on the Senate's healthcare legislation, he added that the bill "remains a work in progress."

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GOP leadership wants to vote on their bill this week, but is still several votes short of the simple majority needed to pass the measure.

With 52 seats, McConnell can lose two GOP senators and still let Vice President Pence break a tie.

Cruz was one of four conservative senators who said late last week that they couldn't support the bill as written.

Sen. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerOn The Trail: Democrats plan to hammer Trump on Social Security, Medicare Lobbying World Democrats spend big to put Senate in play MORE (R-Nev.), a moderate Republican from a state that expanded Medicaid, also said last week that he couldn't vote for the bill.

Separately, Heller and Sens. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulTrump-backed Hagerty wins Tennessee GOP Senate primary Senators introduce bill to block Trump armed drone sale measure The Hill's Campaign Report: Trump's visit to battleground Ohio overshadowed by coronavirus MORE (Ky.), Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonGOP chairmen hit back at accusation they are spreading disinformation with Biden probe Unemployment debate sparks GOP divisions Tensions flare as GOP's Biden probe ramps up  MORE (Wis.) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Campaign Report: Trump's visit to battleground Ohio overshadowed by coronavirus New polls show tight races for Graham, McConnell McConnell goes hands-off on coronavirus relief bill MORE (Maine) have said they would vote against even proceeding to the legislation. If they stick to their pledge, they would be able to block the bill.

A fifth GOP senator, Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeOvernight Defense: Air Force general officially becomes first African American service chief | Senators introduce bill to block Trump armed drone sale measure | State Department's special envoy for Iran is departing the Trump administration Senators introduce bill to block Trump armed drone sale measure Trump signs major conservation bill into law MORE (Utah),  has said that changes need be made before senators vote to proceed, but a spokesman stopped short of saying Lee is a "no" vote. Other key swing votes, including Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiOn The Money: Pessimism grows as coronavirus talks go down to the wire | Jobs report poised to light fire under COVID-19 talks | Tax preparers warn unemployment recipients could owe IRS Pessimism grows as coronavirus talks go down to the wire Hillicon Valley: Facebook removes Trump post | TikTok gets competitor | Lawmakers raise grid safety concerns MORE (R-Alaska), are signaling they still have deep concerns about the bill.

With a procedural vote coming as soon as Tuesday, GOP leadership is stepping up its efforts to win over on-the-fence lawmakers.

Paul announced that he would meet with President Trump on Tuesday to talk about the legislation.

"I'll discuss w/ him how to fix bill & get more to a YES on real repeal, things I've tried to tell Senate leaders with no result so far," he tweeted.

Pence is also reportedly hosting several conservative senators for dinner on Tuesday evening and is expected to attend the Senate GOP lunch.

"We'll continue to work very diligently. The American people know that ObamaCare is failing," Pence told reporters in the Capitol on Tuesday.