GOP leader: Senate could pass scaled-down ObamaCare repeal

GOP leader: Senate could pass scaled-down ObamaCare repeal
© Keren Carrion

Senate Majority Whip John CornynJohn CornynKey GOP senators appear cool to Kavanaugh accuser's demand Trump, GOP regain edge in Kavanaugh battle GOP mulls having outside counsel question Kavanaugh, Ford MORE (R-Texas) indicated Wednesday that is it likely the Senate will try to pass a scaled-down ObamaCare repeal bill as a way to move to negotiations with the House. 

The No. 2 Senate Republican told reporters Wednesday that a scaled-down, "skinny" bill "seems to have a lot of benefits, getting us to conference."

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Republicans view the so-called skinny bill as a way to keep the repeal process alive, given the chamber’s apparent inability to get the votes for a more sweeping bill. 

Cornyn said the House-passed bill could be the "template" for the negotiations in the conference committee. Many Senate Republicans, however, previously rejected the House bill and wanted to start over. 

Cornyn noted that new Senate ideas — such as Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSinger Leon Bridges to join Willie Nelson in performing at O’Rourke rally Election Countdown: Trump confident about midterms in Hill.TV interview | Kavanaugh controversy tests candidates | Sanders, Warren ponder if both can run | Super PACs spending big | Two states open general election voting Friday | Latest Senate polls Poll: Beto O'Rourke leads Cruz by 2 points in Texas Senate race MORE's (R-Texas) amendment to let insurers sell plans outside of ObamaCare's regulations and Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanGraham calls handling of Kavanaugh allegations 'a drive-by shooting' Overnight 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 group wants to lift Medicaid restriction on substance abuse treatment MORE's (R-Ohio) amendment to add $100 billion to help people losing Medicaid afford private coverage — could be included and could help pave the way for a deal in the conference committee. 

"We use the template of the House bill that addresses all of these issues and come up with the best of the ideas we've developed, like the Cruz freedom amendment and the Portman negotiation on Medicaid and the wraparound, and all those would be live and could be used as part of a deal in the conference committee," Cornyn said. 

"So I think all we're looking at is a way to get to that conference quick," he added. 

Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) likewise said Wednesday that passing the skinny bill would be a way to get to the conference committee, and would also buy time for the Congressional Budget Office to score the new proposals, including the Cruz and Portman amendments. 

Aides have said that a "skinny" bill is likely to be just a repeal of the individual and employer mandates in ObamaCare, as well as the medical device tax, though Cornyn said the contents have not been fully determined yet. 

It is unclear whether even a "skinny" bill has enough votes to pass the Senate. 

Democrats argue that a vote for such a bill is really a vote for continuing the repeal process and setting up an uncertain negotiation with the House.