McConnell: No timeline for ObamaCare repeal

McConnell: No timeline for ObamaCare repeal

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellToomey on gun reform: 'Beto O'Rourke is not helping' Election meddling has become the new normal of US diplomacy DC statehood push faces long odds despite record support MORE (R-Ky.) on Tuesday said he does not have a timeline for using reconciliation to repeal ObamaCare but indicated that Republicans would look to roll back as much of the law as they can.

“I don't have a time to give you, but we're certainly going to consider using budget reconciliation for repealing as much of ObamaCare as is reconcilable,” McConnell told reporters. “[There are] certain rules that have to be applied to what is reconcilable and that's an active consideration, as you can imagine.”

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Sen. John CornynJohn CornynTrump walks tightrope on gun control DC statehood push faces long odds despite record support Trump judicial picks face rare GOP opposition MORE (Texas), the Senate’s No. 2 Republican, later on Tuesday told reporters that “health” legislation will probably wait until the fall. Asked why, he said, “We’ve got a lot to do.”

A Cornyn spokesman said that the senator was referring broadly to the issue of healthcare, not a specific bill.

The Senate is dealing with an education bill and a highway funding deadline, with few legislative days remaining until the August recess.

Don Stewart, a McConnell spokesman, indicated later on Tuesday that reconciliation for ObamaCare is likely to wait until the fall.

"The fall is a few weeks away (since we’re out in August)," he wrote in an email. "For the work period ahead we have education, cyber security, chemical safety, highway funding, etc (all in the next few weeks)."  

Reconciliation is a fast-track process that would allow ObamaCare repeal to pass the Senate with 51 votes instead of the usual 60.

The Republican budget sets a deadline of July 24, just 10 days away, for the relevant committees to come up with a reconciliation plan. But even after that deadline, the Senate could still use reconciliation until the end of the congressional session in 2016.

Still, there could be pressure from conservatives if the process waits too long. One of the selling points of the budget this year was that it would allow for the repeal of ObamaCare through reconciliation, even though President Obama is sure to veto the measure.

Republicans are also constrained by rules that limit the reconciliation process to the realm of spending and revenue, limiting how much of the healthcare law can be targeted.  

After Obama's victory on the health law in the Supreme Court last month, Republicans turned their attention to reconciliation for unraveling it.

“It leaves only one vehicle available, if you want to revisit ObamaCare,” McConnell told The New York Times after the ruling. “And that would be to use reconciliation.”