McConnell on healthcare: 'It'll just take us a little bit longer'

McConnell on healthcare: 'It'll just take us a little bit longer'
© Greg Nash

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenators introduce bipartisan infrastructure bill in rare Sunday session Manchin 'can't imagine' supporting change to filibuster for voting rights Biden's bipartisan deal faces Senate gauntlet MORE (R-Ky.) voiced optimism about the GOP’s stalled plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare after an all-hands meeting with President Trump Tuesday afternoon at the White House. 

“We made good progress,” he told reporters after the roughly hour-long huddle in the East Room. 

"We're not quite there, he added. "But I think we’ve got a really good chance of getting there. It’ll just take us a little bit longer."
McConnell said Trump heard from several senators who are worried about two of the thorniest issues in the bill: changes to individual healthcare plans and language rolling back the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid.

“Everyone around the table is interested in getting to yes — is interested in getting an outcome,” he continued. “Because we know the status quo is simply unacceptable, unsustainable and no action is just not an option.”

The rare White House meeting with the full Republican Senate conference was called after McConnell delayed a vote on the ObamaCare overhaul until after the July 4 recess. 

McConnell pushed back the vote – originally set to take place Tuesday or Wednesday -- after five Senate Republicans said they would not support a procedural vote to begin debate on the legislation this week. The defections came after a Congressional Budget Office report showed 22 million more people would be uninsured over the next decade under the Senate plan. As of Tuesday evening, nine Republicans had come out against the current version of the bill.

The vote delay could put the healthcare push in jeopardy, especially if rank-and-file Republicans are swayed by lobbying campaigns or constituents during the holiday break. 

Trump tried to rally the Republicans to remain on board with the effort. 

“I think the Senate bill is going to be great,” Trump said during a photo-op before the meeting. “So we’re going to talk and we’re going to see what we can do. But we’re getting very close."

But the president acknowledged the effort has a chance of failure.

“This will be great if we get it done, and if we don’t get it done, it’s just going to be something that we’re not going to like and that’s OK and I understand that very well,” he said.