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Senate won't vote on ObamaCare repeal bill

Senate Republicans have decided to not vote on their latest ObamaCare repeal legislation, signaling a collapse in their last-ditch effort to kill off President Obama's signature law.

"We don't have the votes so it's probably best we don't do the vote," said Sen. Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesTrump administration could use military bases to export coal, gas McConnell: No one is going to beat Murkowski in Alaska Murkowski brushes off GOP backlash: 'I'm good with' Kavanaugh vote MORE (R-Mont.) after the GOP conference met at its regular weekly luncheon. "We've lost this battle, but we're going to win the war."

The last-ditch bill sponsored by Sens. Bill CassidyWilliam (Bill) Morgan CassidyTrump signs bills banning drug pricing 'gag clauses' Dem ad accuses Heller of 'lying' about record on pre-existing conditions GOP senator suggests criminal referral for third Kavanaugh accuser's 'apparently false affidavit' MORE (R-La.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamCorker: US must determine responsibility in Saudi journalist's death Dem senator calls for US action after 'preposterous' Saudi explanation Trump calls Saudi explanation for journalist's death credible, arrests 'good first step' MORE (R-S.C.) would dismantle ObamaCare’s insurance subsidy program and Medicaid expansion and convert their funding into block grants to states. 

"We don't have the votes," Cassidy acknowledged after meeting with his colleagues on Tuesday for more than an hour.

"We made the decision since we don't have the votes, we're going to postpone it," he added, expressing disappointment.

Graham said the health care debate will resume after Congress tries to move a tax reform package and expressed confidence his bill will eventually muster 50 votes.

"It's not if, only a matter of when," he said, adding that with more "attention" and "time," the bill could eventually become law.

In the meantime, Graham and Cassidy plan to tour the country to build support.

"We're going to take our show on the road," Graham said.

Graham and Cassidy came a lot closer to success than many would have anticipated just two weeks ago.

In the end, they couldn't convince several of their colleagues, conservatives and centrists alike, to go along with their plan.

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsConservatives bankrolled and dominated Kavanaugh confirmation media campaign The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Health care a top policy message in fall campaigns Susan Collins and the mob mentality MORE (R-Maine) delivered the final death blow on Monday, announcing she could not support the bill because of its cuts to Medicaid and its lack of protections for people with pre-existing conditions, a big issue that the late-night host Jimmy Kimmel used to criticize the bill. 

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulSaudi mystery drives wedge between Trump, GOP Noisy democracy, or rude people behaving like children? Lawmakers, Wall Street shrug off Trump's escalating Fed attacks MORE (R-Ky.) was also a "no" vote. He said the bill would have left too much of ObamaCare in place.

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMeghan McCain calls Russian attacks against her father the 'highest compliment' to her family Arizona Dems hope higher Latino turnout will help turn the state blue McConnell: GOP could try to repeal ObamaCare again after midterms MORE (R-Ariz.) said he would be voting no on Friday, in large part because of a process he said was rushed and excluded Democrats. 

It was also unclear if Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzElection Countdown: Small-donor donations explode | Russian woman charged with midterm interference | Takeaways from North Dakota Senate debate | O'Rourke gives 'definitive no' to 2020 run | Dems hope Latino voters turn Arizona blue White vote is 'fundamental problem' for Texas Dems, political analysts says Houston Chronicle endorses Beto O'Rourke in Texas Senate race MORE (R-Texas) would vote for the bill.

After the decision to not hold the vote, he said there was more work to be done.

"I think we're close and we need to continue working," he said. 

The rush on the Graham-Cassidy bill came in part because of a Sept. 30 deadline for using budgetary rules that prevented Democrats from filibustering the legislation.

Collins (Maine) urged colleagues to resume bipartisan negotiations in the Senate Health Committee between Chairman Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderOvernight Health Care — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Senate blocks Dem measure on short-term health plans | Trump signs bill banning drug price 'gag clauses' | DOJ approves Aetna-CVS merger | Juul ramps up lobbying Trump signs bills banning drug pricing 'gag clauses' Senate defeats measure to overturn Trump expansion of non-ObamaCare plans MORE (R-Tenn.) and Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayOvernight Health Care: House passes funding bill | Congress gets deal on opioids package | 80K people died in US from flu last winter Wilkie vows no 'inappropriate influence' at VA Dems push back on using federal funds to arm teachers MORE (D-Wash.).

“I think the best route is for us to resume the hearings in the HELP [Health, Education, Labor and Pensions] Committee that we were doing before we were diverted by Graham-Cassidy,” Collins told reporters. 

She said “it would be helpful if the vice president outlined his support for resuming the hearings in the HELP Committee and the negotiations that were making such good progress,” ahead of a Republican lunch with Vice President Mike Pence.

Sen. James LankfordJames Paul LankfordCollusion judgment looms for key Senate panel GOP loads up lame-duck agenda as House control teeters The Hill's Morning Report — Kavanaugh, Ford saga approaches bitter end MORE (R-Okla.) said Senate Republicans should “continue to negotiate until we get it solved."

But Lankford does not want the health-care debate combined with the upcoming tax-reform debate.

Instead, he said that colleagues should continue to negotiate behind the scenes on replacing ObamaCare while a projected $1.5 trillion tax package takes center stage. 

“We need to keep the two separate but both have to keep going,” he said. “You can’t not do health-care issues when everybody around the country are facing double-digit [premium] increases and hospitals are merging,” he said. 

“Keep working behind the scenes until we get it resolved and ready for the floor.”

There had been talk about including ObamaCare repeal in a new budget reconciliation measure that has been planned for tax reform. That would allow both ObamaCare repeal and tax reform to be brought up under special rues that would prevent a filibuster.

But that would also put tax reform at risk by pairing the issue with health care, and a number of key Republicans, including Cornyn and House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), voiced opposition to that plan on Tuesday.

Nathaniel Weixel and Jordain Carney contributed to this story.