Senate GOP revives negotiation over ObamaCare repeal and replace
© Greg Nash

Senate Republicans will huddle on Wednesday evening to look for a way forward on GOP healthcare legislation.

"I think yeah, I would say that it is contemporarily sort of revived," Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThunePolls: Hiking estate tax less popular than taxing mega wealth, income Will Trump sign the border deal? Here's what we know Key GOP senator pitches Trump: Funding deal a 'down payment' on wall MORE (R-S.D.) said of the Republican effort to repeal and replace ObamaCare.

Thune and Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean Blunt‘Contingency’ spending in 3B budget deal comes under fire GOP braces for Trump's emergency declaration The border deal: What made it in, what got left out MORE (R-Mo.), both members of Senate leadership, expressed optimism about injecting new life into the process following a closed-door lunch with President Trump earlier in the day. It is not clear what approach Senate Republicans will take in the negotiation.

"There are going to be some meetings tonight up here with people who have issues, still have outstanding issues, I think the question will be ... can we find a way to yes," Thune told reporters. 

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He added that the main obstacles to getting a deal to repeal and replace ObamaCare in one bill remain concerns from moderates on Medicaid and the "free market" part of the caucus. Leadership is looking to "reconcile the two." 

"We don't have any delusions about the fact that this is going to be very hard. We still have members who are not there," Thune said. 

Vice President Pence, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and Seema Verma — Trump's Medicaid chief — are expected to meet with senators Wednesday evening at the Capitol. 

Blunt added that he expects roughly a dozen senators "with the most concerns" will take part in the discussions. 

"I think we're moving toward some conclusion here," he said. "At this time [that] would be the 2015 bill, but that could change between now and the vote if everyone comes together."

The Senate is expected to try to take up a House-passed healthcare bill, which is being used for any Senate action, early next week. 

If Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP Green New Deal stunt is a great deal for Democrats The national emergency will haunt Republicans come election season Trump: McConnell should keep Senate in session until nominees are approved MORE (R-Ky.) can get 50 votes to overcome the initial hurdle, Republicans are either expected to try to add a 2015 repeal-only bill as an amendment or, if they can get a deal, a repeal and replace proposal. 

Before the lunch with Trump, three GOP senators — Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiOn unilateral executive action, Mitch McConnell was right — in 2014 The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Kidney Care Partners — Trump escalates border fight with emergency declaration On The Money: Trump declares emergency at border | Braces for legal fight | Move divides GOP | Trump signs border deal to avoid shutdown | Winners, losers from spending fight | US, China trade talks to resume next week MORE (Alaska), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsGOP Green New Deal stunt is a great deal for Democrats On unilateral executive action, Mitch McConnell was right — in 2014 Congress must step up to protect Medicare home health care MORE (Maine) and Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoDems slam EPA plan for fighting drinking water contaminants GOP senator: Border deal is 'a very good compromise' Push to include contractor back pay in funding deal hits GOP roadblock MORE (W.Va.) — were expected to vote 'no' against the motion to proceed. 

Capito said after the meeting that she is still opposed to repeal-only.

Both Blunt and Sen. John CornynJohn CornynOn unilateral executive action, Mitch McConnell was right — in 2014 Poll shows competitive matchup if O’Rourke ran for Senate again On The Money: Trump declares emergency at border | Braces for legal fight | Move divides GOP | Trump signs border deal to avoid shutdown | Winners, losers from spending fight | US, China trade talks to resume next week MORE (R-Texas) signaled after the lunch meeting that they thought they had made progress toward overcoming concerns about Medicaid, which has been a key hang up for GOP negotiations. 

Several moderate senators from states that expanded Medicaid under ObamaCare were wary that the Senate's healthcare bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act, would dramatically reshape Medicaid and leave some of their constituents unable to afford insurance. Meanwhile, conservatives wanted to scale down and add new requirements for the program.