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

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOvernight Health Care: GOP senator says drug price action unlikely this year | House panel weighs ban on flavored e-cigs | New York sues Juul McConnell hopes Senate impeachment trial 'not too lengthy a process' Former Speaker Boehner's official portrait unveiled 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 Collins2020 Republicans accuse Schumer of snubbing legislation Key Republicans say Biden can break Washington gridlock Feehery: Pivoting to infrastructure could help heal post-impeachment wounds MORE (Maine), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiKey Republicans say Biden can break Washington gridlock Impeachment hearings don't move needle with Senate GOP Hillicon Valley: Federal inquiry opened into Google health data deal | Facebook reports millions of post takedowns | Microsoft shakes up privacy debate | Disney plus tops 10M sign-ups in first day MORE (Alaska) and Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoHillicon Valley: Facebook to remove mentions of potential whistleblower's name | House Dems demand FCC action over leak of location data | Dem presses regulators to secure health care data Senators introduce bill to create 'parity' among broadband programs Republicans warn election results are 'wake-up call' for Trump MORE (W.Va.) are expected to vote "no" on proceeding to the House healthcare bill. 

Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanWhy Republicans are afraid to call a key witness in the impeachment inquiry Republicans warn election results are 'wake-up call' for Trump GOP lawmakers fear Trump becoming too consumed by impeachment fight 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 McCainConservative group cuts ties with Michelle Malkin Democratic debate at Tyler Perry's could miss the mark with black voters Donald Trump's 2020 election economic gamble 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 KirkWhy Republicans are afraid to call a key witness in the impeachment inquiry Ex-Rep. Duffy to join lobbying firm BGR Bottom Line 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 Memo: Centrists change tone of Democratic race Political purity tests are for losers Deportations lower under Trump administration than Obama: report 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 Paul Democratic debate at Tyler Perry's could miss the mark with black voters RNC says ex-Trump ambassador nominee's efforts 'to link future contributions to an official action' were 'inappropriate' GOP divided over impeachment trial strategy 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.