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 McConnellBiden, Eastland and rejecting the cult of civility California governor predicts 'xenophobic' GOP will likely be third party in 15 years This week: Congress set for clash on Trump's border request 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 GrahamGOP senators divided over approach to election security GOP lawmakers want Mulvaney sidelined in budget talks Trump urged to quickly fill Pentagon post amid Iran tensions MORE (R-S.C.) and Bill CassidyWilliam (Bill) Morgan CassidyThe Hill's Morning Report - Crunch time arrives for 2020 Dems with debates on deck Overnight Health Care: Key Trump drug pricing proposal takes step forward | Missouri Planned Parenthood clinic loses bid for license | 2020 Democrats to take part in Saturday forum on abortion rights The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by MAPRx — Trump calls off Iran strike at last minute 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 TrumpConway defends herself against Hatch Act allegations amid threat of subpoena How to defuse Gulf tensions and avoid war with Iran Trump says 'stubborn child' Fed 'blew it' by not cutting rates MORE signed Friday repealed the individual mandate, which he said was "one of the pillars" of the law.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.