The Latest: McConnell says he'll push for clean repeal bill
Jul. 18, 2017
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the congressional effort to overhaul the national health care law (all times local):
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is trying a new health care strategy after the "repeal and replace" measure failed. McConnell says he will push the Senate to pass a clean repeal bill.
The Republican leader made the announcement in a statement that came a few hours after two Republican senators dealt a fatal blow to the replacement bill unveiled last Thursday, meaning McConnell lacked the votes to move ahead.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, facing defeat on his "Obamacare" replacement, says he will push the Senate to pass a clean repeal bill.
The Republican leader made the announcement in a statement that came a few hours after two Republican senators dealt a fatal blow to the replacement bill unveiled last Thursday. Sens. Jerry Moran and Mike Lee joined two other senators in opposing the legislation, meaning McConnell lacked the votes to move ahead.
The Kentucky Republican says, "regretfully, it is now apparent that the effort to repeal and immediately replace the failure of Obamacare will not be successful."
McConnell says that in the coming days, the Senate will consider the House-passed bill, with the first order of business a repeal of Obamacare with a two-year delay.
He is not saying when the vote will occur.
President Donald Trump says Republicans should just repeal the nation's current health care law and work on a new plan that starts from a "clean slate."
Trump tweeted his message Monday night after two more GOP senators announced their opposition to legislation he backs. The defections left Republicans short of the votes they need to pass the measure.
Trump says that if Republicans start fresh, "Dems will join in!"
Republican lawmakers have spent the last several months working to both repeal the law passed under President Barack Obama and pass an overhaul package.
Republican Sens. Jerry Moran of Kansas and Mike Lee of Utah say they will oppose the Republican health care bill, dealing a blow to GOP leaders' hopes of repealing and replacing President Barack Obama's legislation.
The two senators issued separate statements late Monday saying they can't support the legislation. They join two other Republican senators, Susan Collins of Maine and Rand Paul of Kentucky, in opposition.
With just a 52-48 majority in the Senate, Lee and Moran's resistance means Majority Leader Mitch McConnell cannot move ahead on the bill.
Lee says he can't support the bill because it doesn't repeal all of the Obamacare taxes and doesn't go far enough to lower premiums.
Moran says, "We should not put our stamp of approval on bad policy."
A third Republican senator is signaling he may not back his party's health care bill when it finally comes to a vote. That puts the high-profile legislation in deep jeopardy.
Conservative Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson says he's spoken to colleagues and confirmed that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said future Medicaid cuts planned by the health care measure will "never happen."
Johnson tells reporters such comments are "troubling" and "a real breach of trust."
He says he's no longer urging colleagues to vote to begin debate on the measure. That vote is now expected as early as next week.
The measure will be derailed if three of the 52 GOP senators oppose it. Two other Republicans have already said they're against it.
A conservative Republican who is running to unseat Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake says she's met with White House officials about the campaign.
Kelli Ward says said she was encouraged by the meeting at the White House, but wouldn't discuss details.
The White House meeting points to strained ties between Flake and President Donald Trump. Flake was an outspoken Republican critic of Trump in last year's presidential contest. He's facing the possibility of multiple GOP rivals in the 2018 primary.
Ward is a former state senator who sought to unseat Sen. John McCain in 2016.
She calls Flake ineffective but acknowledges ousting an incumbent is difficult. But Ward points to Trump's surprise win in 2016 and says "times have changed."
Foes from left and right are using the delayed vote on the Republican health care bill to make it as politically toxic as possible for wavering GOP senators to support it.
But the postponement also gives Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the White House more time to cut the deals they need to rescue the imperiled measure.
McConnell signaled Monday that days of bargaining and persuasion with reluctant colleagues lay ahead. He says the only way to prevail "is with continued hard work, and that's just what we intend to do. "
The AARP is aiming TV and radio ads at undecided, moderate Republican senators in five states. From the right, Americans for Prosperity is rallying its members to urge senators to make the bill even more conservative.