Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday said the path forward for the legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare remains unclear, adding that he is unsure at the moment how such a measure will secure the requisite 50 votes from the GOP’s 52 senators.
"I don’t know how we get to 50 (votes) at the moment. But that’s the goal,” McConnell (R-Ky.) told Reuters in an interview. He said passing a repeal-and-replace measure, a campaign promise of GOP lawmakers for more than seven years and a key plank of President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, remains a top priority.
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Work on repeal-and-replace legislation had already begun in the Senate well before the House managed to pass its own bill, dubbed the American Health Care Act. Multiple GOP senators have said that they do not intend to take up the House-passed measure but will instead work on approving their own bill.
McConnell told Reuters that he does not intend to reach out to any Democrats in order to pass the Senate’s version of the healthcare bill because the gulf between the two parties on the issue is too great to overcome.
Even in the House, where the Republican majority is greater than it is in the Senate, the issue proved to be a thorny one within the GOP caucus. Republicans were unable to strike a deal between arch-conservative and more moderate members in the House on their first try at healthcare legislation and were just narrowly able to do so on a second attempt. The bill cleared the House without a single Democratic vote.
The Senate’s other top priority, McConnell said, is tax reform, the forecast for which is “pretty good” according to the majority leader. Such legislation, he said, is "not in my view quite as challenging as healthcare."