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 McConnellSanders hits Feinstein over Kavanaugh allegations: Now it’s clear why she did nothing for months On The Money: Senate approves 4B spending bill | China imposes new tariffs on billion in US goods | Ross downplays new tariffs: 'Nobody's going to actually notice' McConnell tamps down any talk of Kavanaugh withdrawal 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 GrahamTrump: I hope voters pay attention to Dem tactics amid Kavanaugh fight Graham calls handling of Kavanaugh allegations 'a drive-by shooting' Graham knocks South Korea over summit with North MORE (R-S.C.) and Bill CassidyWilliam (Bill) Morgan CassidyOvernight Health Care: Senators target surprise medical bills | Group looks to allow Medicaid funds for substance abuse programs | FDA launches anti-vaping campaign for teens Bipartisan senators unveil proposal to crack down on surprise medical bills Outdated global postal system hurts US manufacturers MORE (R-La.)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 TrumpTrump: I hope voters pay attention to Dem tactics amid Kavanaugh fight South Korea leader: North Korea agrees to take steps toward denuclearization Graham calls handling of Kavanaugh allegations 'a drive-by shooting' MORE signed Friday repealed the individual mandate, which he said was "one of the pillars" of the law.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.