McConnell leaves door open for second try on healthcare

Greg Nash

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is leaving the door open for Republicans to take a second run at repealing ObamaCare after a GOP proposal failed last week.

“We’re continuing to score some of the options on healthcare,” McConnell told reporters during a weekly press conference on Tuesday. “There’s still an opportunity to do that.”

McConnell said Republicans, not Democrats, were behind the failed ObamaCare repeal vote.

“It’s pretty obvious our problem on healthcare was not the Democrats. We didn’t have 50 Republicans,” he said.

{mosads}Senate Republicans failed to pass their “skinny” repeal bill in a 49-51 vote early Friday morning.

McConnell has largely stayed silent this week on the vote, which threw a key pillar of the GOP agenda into limbo. GOP senators, including McConnell, have campaigned for years on repealing ObamaCare. 

President Trump and the White House have publicly urged Republicans to quickly take another vote, and hold up other Senate work until they get an agreement.

GOP senators are still waiting to get an analysis from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) on several proposals, including measures from Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas. 

Trump went a step further, urging Senate Republicans to gut the 60-vote legislative filibuster. That move, however, wouldn’t have helped the GOP’s healthcare repeal bill, which only needed a simple majority.

McConnell said on Tuesday, however,  that Senate Republicans will not get rid of the filibuster, despite Trump’s pressure tactics.

“The votes are simply not there,” the Kentucky Republican told reporters.

Despite McConnell’s comments and pressure from Trump, GOP senators appear poised to move on from healthcare for now. 

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) told reporters on Monday evening that Republicans could circle back but needed to try to put “wins on the board.” 

“Obviously we didn’t give up and we didn’t quit and we gave it our best shot, and we can come back to this at a later time,” Blunt said, asked about Trump’s tweets.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) added from the Senate floor on Tuesday that it was time for Democrats to offer some ideas on how to fix the healthcare system. 

“There’s a lot the American people expect of us, but we’ve seen with fragile majorities in the Senate that we are forced to work together to try to solve these problems. And I think, frankly, bipartisan solutions tend to be more durable,” the No. 2 Senate Republican said.

The majority leader on Tuesday pointed to a slate of nominations, a veterans bill and a FDA reauthorization as potential items they could take up before the August recess. 

Democrats have stressed repeatedly that they want to work with Republicans on fixing ObamaCare. Leadership was quick to distance itself from characterizing the failed Senate vote as a political victory. 

Schumer added on Tuesday that the unpopularity of the GOP proposal, not McConnell’s abilities, were to blame for last week’s vote. 

“Leader McConnell is a master tactician. It’s not his fault he couldn’t get it done,” he told reporters. 

Democrats have sent Republicans multiple letters on healthcare that asked, for example, for an all-Senate meeting and suggested a list of rooms where they could hold a public hearing.

In July, they sent a letter to McConnell outlining several Democratic-sponsored bills that the Senate could take up.

Tags John Cornyn Lindsey Graham Mitch McConnell Roy Blunt Ted Cruz

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