McConnell encourages Graham, Cassidy to continue ObamaCare repeal push

McConnell encourages Graham, Cassidy to continue ObamaCare repeal push
© Greg Nash

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDems ready aggressive response to Trump emergency order, as GOP splinters Green New Deal Resolution invites big picture governing ‘Contingency’ spending in 3B budget deal comes under fire MORE (R-Ky.) on Friday encouraged two key senators to continue working on legislation to repeal and replace ObamaCare.

McConnell encouraged Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamPence met with silence after mentioning Trump in Munich speech The Memo: Trump and McCabe go to war Graham seeks new Rosenstein testimony after explosive McCabe interview MORE (R-S.C.) and Bill CassidyWilliam (Bill) Morgan CassidyCongress must step up to protect Medicare home health care Ivanka Trump to meet with GOP senators to discuss paid family leave legislation Bipartisan senators ask industry for information on surprise medical bills MORE (R-La.) to keep working to cobble together enough votes to pass their ObamaCare repeal legislation.

“I wish them well,” McConnell said and added that if the senators can get the votes next year, he’d encourage the Senate to vote on the bill.

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McConnell’s comments mark a slight shift in tone, as they come a day after he said that the Senate will likely be moving on from ObamaCare repeal next year.

"Well, we obviously were unable to completely repeal and replace with a 52-48 Senate," McConnell told NPR on Thursday. "We'll have to take a look at what that looks like with a 51-49 Senate. But I think we'll probably move on to other issues."

The Senate Republican leader will see his majority shrink to 51-49 once Alabama Democrat Doug Jones is seated in January.

McConnell said he would "love to make more substantial changes to ObamaCare than we have," but noted that the GOP tax bill that President TrumpDonald John TrumpGillibrand backs federal classification of third gender: report Former Carter pollster, Bannon ally Patrick Caddell dies at 68 Heather Nauert withdraws her name from consideration for UN Ambassador job MORE signed Friday repealed the individual mandate, which he said was "one of the pillars" of the law.

McConnell’s comments signal that for all the talk of moving on, Senate Republicans can’t quite give up on the idea of completely repealing and replacing President Obama’s signature health law.

Cassidy and Graham were the main authors of a last-gasp effort to repeal ObamaCare in the fall, just ahead of the Sept. 30 deadline for using reconciliation to pass a bill with only 51 Republican votes.

The legislation gained surprising momentum in its final days, but ultimately failed, and the Senate never voted on the bill. Graham and Cassidy have vowed to keep working on it next year.