Freedom Caucus chair: ObamaCare replacement 'likely to fail' in Senate

Freedom Caucus chair: ObamaCare replacement 'likely to fail' in Senate
© Greg Nash

The head of the conservative House Freedom Caucus predicted Thursday that the GOP's ObamaCare replacement plan is “likely to fail” in the Senate.

“Getting 60 votes on a replacement plan from Senate Democrats will be problematic. They have said they have no desire to help,” Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the new Freedom Caucus chairman, said in an interview with The Hill. “In that context, a replacement vote in the Senate is likely to fail.”

Republicans hold 52 votes in the Senate, so they will need support from at least eight Democrats to overcome a filibuster. 

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Meadows’s comments raise serious doubts about whether Republicans will be able to fulfill a central campaign pledge of President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpLiz Cheney: 'Send her back' chant 'inappropriate' but not about race, gender Booker: Trump is 'worse than a racist' Top Democrat insists country hasn't moved on from Mueller MORE and congressional Republicans that they will be able to repeal and replace President Obama’s healthcare law.

Democrats have long argued that it’d be easy for Republicans to repeal ObamaCare, but that replacing it would be much tougher.

Meadows also told reporters Thursday that GOP leaders have laid out a plan to vote on both ObamaCare repeal and a full replacement within days — “not multiple weeks, maybe multiple days.”

That’s consistent with the script outlined this week by Trump and Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanEx-White House spokesman Raj Shah joins Fox Corporation as senior vice president Trump quietly rolled back programs to detect, combat weapons of mass destruction: report Ocasio-Cortez top aide emerges as lightning rod amid Democratic feud MORE (R-Wis.) that ObamaCare repeal and replacement would happen “concurrently” or “simultaneously.”

"Each day we get a little more specific. We now know that we're going to vote on a replacement plan, you know, in the same timeframe — maybe not the same day, [but] certainly within the same week — as the repeal vote," Meadows told a gaggle of reporters.

Asked if the measure would be "a full replacement," Meadows replied yes.

"I haven't seen it, but that's my understanding. Yes, a full replacement," he said. "Because a partial replacement can actually happen in the reconciliation instruction. So a different stand-alone bill."

House Republicans on Friday are poised to pass a Senate-passed budget that will include instructions to committees on how to repeal ObamaCare. That repeal and replace process could happen in February or “bleed into March,” Meadows said.