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

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOvernight Health Care — Presented by Purdue Pharma — Trump says GOP will support pre-existing condition protections | McConnell defends ObamaCare lawsuit | Dems raise new questions for HHS on child separations Poll finds Dems prioritize health care, GOP picks lower taxes when it's time to vote The Hill's 12:30 Report — Mnuchin won't attend Saudi conference | Pompeo advises giving Saudis 'few more days' to investigate | Trump threatens military action over caravan 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 CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Health care a top policy message in fall campaigns Susan Collins and the mob mentality Graham: I hope Dems 'get their ass kicked' for conduct around Kavanaugh MORE (Maine), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiEx-Florida lawmaker leaves Republican Party Murkowski not worried about a Palin challenge Flake on Kavanaugh confirmation: To see GOP 'spiking the ball in the end zone' doesn't seem right MORE (Alaska) and Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by PhRMA — Dem path to a Senate majority narrows GOP shrugs off dire study warning of global warming Overnight Health Care — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Senators face Wednesday vote on Trump health plans rule | Trump officials plan downtime for ObamaCare website | Lawmakers push for action on reducing maternal deaths MORE (W.Va.) are expected to vote "no" on proceeding to the House healthcare bill. 

Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanElection Countdown: O'Rourke brings in massive M haul | Deal on judges lets senators return to the trail | Hurricane puts Florida candidates in the spotlight | Adelson spending big to save GOP in midterms How Kavanaugh got the votes  Collins to support Kavanaugh, securing enough votes for confirmation 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 McCainMcConnell: GOP could try to repeal ObamaCare again after midterms Comey donates maximum amount to Democratic challenger in Virginia House race Live coverage: McSally clashes with Sinema in Arizona Senate debate 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 KirkThis week: Trump heads to Capitol Hill Trump attending Senate GOP lunch Tuesday High stakes as Trump heads to Hill 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 ObamaFive takeaways from the first North Dakota Senate debate Live coverage: Heitkamp faces Cramer in high-stakes North Dakota debate Khashoggi prompts Trump to reconsider human rights in foreign policy 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 PaulSaudi mystery drives wedge between Trump, GOP Noisy democracy, or rude people behaving like children? Lawmakers, Wall Street shrug off Trump's escalating Fed attacks 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.