Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has delayed a vote on legislation to repeal and replace Barack Obama’s signature Affordable Care Act.
The setback is the latest blow for congressional Republicans, who have struggled to draft a viable replacement for Obamacare. Initial efforts in the House stalled in the early days of President Trump’s presidency, as conservative lawmakers struggled to iron out internal differences between the brunt of the Party and Freedom Caucus.
While McConnell has come under fire for delaying a long-promised repeal of the Affordable Care Act, he defended his decision by pointing out that Republicans still aren’t confident they can muster 50 votes.
The New York Times analysis of the state of the senate is that conservatives haven’t likely smoothed enough opposition among themselves to even begin debate.
“We will not be on the bill this week, but we’re still working toward getting at least 50 people in a comfortable place,” admitted McConnell on Tuesday.
The Senate Majority Leader had earlier suggested that a vote would come before the Senate’s Fourth of July recess.
However, McConnell is pushing his fellow Republicans to take action. He told reporters that he’d spoken to President Trump, with the two concluding that, unless the GOP can convene in agreement, conservatives may have to negotiate with Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
“The status quo is simply unacceptable,” said McConnell, speaking to reporters. “It’ll be dealt with in one of two ways: Either Republicans will agree and change the status quo, or the markets will continue to collapse, and we’ll have to sit down with Senator Schumer. And my suspicion is that any negotiation with the Democrats would include none of the reforms we would like to make.”
President Trump didn’t seem to echo McConnell’s thinly veiled and cynical threats, instead opting to color his speech with rhetoric bordering on bubbly.
“We’re getting very close,” the commander-in-chief said.
“This will be great if we get it done,” Trump said. “And if we don’t get it done, it’s just going to be something that we’re not going to like, and that’s okay, and I understand that very well.”
Despite the obstacles faced by Senate Republicans, Democrats have urged caution.
“The mantra on our side is never to underestimate Mitch McConnell,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).
Schumer added his prediction of the days to come, too.
“We know the fight is not over. That is for sure,” he said, saying McConnell would “try to use a slush fund to buy off Republicans, cut back-room deals, to try and get this thing done.”