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 ThuneGoogle says it continues to allow apps to access Gmail user data Fight looms over national privacy law Want to improve health care? Get Americans off of their couches MORE (R-S.D.) said of the Republican effort to repeal and replace ObamaCare.

Thune and Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntMurkowski echoes calls for Kavanaugh, accuser to testify Kavanaugh, accuser to testify publicly on Monday Kavanaugh furor intensifies as calls for new testimony grow 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. 


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 McConnellGrassley: Dems 'withheld information' on new Kavanaugh allegation Kavanaugh accuser set to testify Thursday McConnell told Trump criticism of Kavanaugh accuser isn't helpful: report 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 MurkowskiKavanaugh accuser set to testify Thursday Kavanaugh accuser agrees to testify next week Murkowski says she’ll wait until Ford testifies before making decision on Kavanaugh MORE (Alaska), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsKavanaugh accuser set to testify Thursday McConnell told Trump criticism of Kavanaugh accuser isn't helpful: report Dems see Kavanaugh saga as playing to their advantage MORE (Maine) and Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoThis week: Democrats pledge ‘sparks’ in Kavanaugh hearing Congress faces September scramble on spending California passes bill to ban controversial drift net fishing 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 CornynKey GOP senators appear cool to Kavanaugh accuser's demand Trump, GOP regain edge in Kavanaugh battle GOP mulls having outside counsel question Kavanaugh, Ford 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.