McConnell: Senate to try to repeal ObamaCare next week
© Keren Carrion

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocrats livid over GOP's COVID-19 attacks on Biden US could default within weeks absent action on debt limit: analysis The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Congress avoids shutdown MORE (R-Ky.) said Republicans will try to move forward with their plan to repeal ObamaCare next week, even as they appear short of the needed votes to pass the proposal.

“For the information of all senators, at the request of the President [Trump] and Vice President [Pence] and after consulting with our members, we will have the vote on the motion to proceed to the ObamaCare repeal bill early next week," McConnell said from the Senate floor on Tuesday night. 

The Senate is expected to vote on whether or not to take up the House-passed healthcare bill, which is being used for any action in the upper chamber. If they are successful, McConnell would offer the ObamaCare repeal proposal as an amendment to that legislation.

But the push to vote comes as GOP leadership appears short of the simple majority needed to even open debate on a healthcare bill — much less repeal ObamaCare. 

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With a slim 52-seat majority, McConnell can only afford to lose two GOP senators and still let Vice President Pence break a tie.

GOP Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsPhotos of the Week: Schumer, ASU protest and sea turtles Real relief from high gas prices The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden to announce increased measures for omicron MORE (Maine), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiCongress should reject H.R. 1619's dangerous anywhere, any place casino precedent Democratic frustration growing over stagnating voting rights bills Graham emerges as go-to ally for Biden's judicial picks MORE (Alaska) and Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Congress avoids shutdown Senate dodges initial December crisis with last-minute deal GOP ramps up attacks on SALT deduction provision MORE (W.Va.) are expected to vote "no" on proceeding to the House healthcare bill. 

Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanGOP ramps up attacks on SALT deduction provision Senate race in Ohio poses crucial test for Democrats Ohio Senate candidate unveils ad comparing Biden to Carter MORE (R-Ohio) separately told reporters on a conference call that it wasn't "appropriate" to repeal ObamaCare without a replacement, though he has not said if he will vote against taking up the House bill. 

It is also unclear if Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainThe bully who pulls the levers of Trump's mind never learns GOP senators appalled by 'ridiculous' House infighting MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace, Chris Christie battle over Fox News MORE (R-Ariz.), who is recovering from a surgery, will return to Washington in time.

Senators are slated to visit the White House on Wednesday for lunch with Trump, where healthcare will likely be a key topic of discussion.

Conservatives and leadership have stressed that eventually they need to hold a vote, even if it failed.

“At some point we need to find out where the votes are,” Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), a member of GOP leadership, acknowledged to reporters. 

McConnell suggested after a closed-door GOP lunch on Tuesday that he is prepared to move forward with a vote even if the procedural motion fails on the floor, since it would at least show the public — and the White House — where the bill stands.

The Senate previously passed an ObamaCare repeal bill in 2015 with only Collins and then-Sen. Mark KirkMark Steven KirkDuckworth announces reelection bid Brave new world: Why we need a Senate Human Rights Commission  Senate majority battle snags Biden Cabinet hopefuls MORE (R-Ill.) voting against the measure. 

Conservatives have ripped their moderate colleagues for refusing to go forward now despite their previous support — which came when they knew then-President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaThe bully who pulls the levers of Trump's mind never learns US-China space cooperation is up in the air more than ever GOP infighting takes stupid to a whole new level MORE would veto the bill.

“If you're not willing to vote the same way you voted in 2015, then you need to go back home and you need to explain to Republicans why you're no longer for repealing ObamaCare,” said Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulRand Paul: Chris Cuomo firing 'a small step toward CNN regaining any credibility' GOP anger with Fauci rises Congress's goal in December: Avoid shutdown and default MORE (R-Ky.). 

The 2015 measure guts ObamaCare by repealing authority for the federal government to run healthcare exchanges and scrapping subsidies aimed at helping people afford plans bought through those exchanges. It zeros out the penalties on individuals who do not buy insurance and employers who do not offer health insurance.

Repealing portions of ObamaCare without enacting a replacement could leave 18 million people without health insurance the following year, according to a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis released in January.

The CBO also found that 32 million people would become uninsured by 2026 after the elimination of ObamaCare's Medicaid expansion and insurance subsidies. 

Updated: 7:05 p.m.