Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell indicated Friday that he plans to stick to healthcare legislation that would repeal and replace portions of Obamacare simultaneously, rather than take a "repeal and delay" proposal recently suggested by President Trump.
McConnell, R-Ky., told a gathering of Republicans in Elizabethtown, Ky., that "failure has to be possible or you can't have success."
"It's not easy making America great again, is it?" he said.
Trump had suggested Friday on Twitter that if Republicans cannot agree on healthcare then they should work to repeal portions of the law first and craft a fix later."If Republican Senators are unable to pass what they are working on now, they should immediately REPEAL, and then REPLACE at a later date!" Trump tweeted Friday.
If Republican Senators are unable to pass what they are working on now, they should immediately REPEAL, and then REPLACE at a later date!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 30, 2017
Senate Republicans have been unable to reach an agreement over healthcare legislation, with various members pulling the bill in different directions. Centrist members of the party are worried about cuts to Medicaid for low-income people, and a Congressional Budget Office projection shows 22 million more people would be uninsured by 2026. Conservatives are concerned that the current draft does not go far enough in repealing Obamacare and in providing lower premiums.
On Friday, McConnell compared the Senate's negotiations to a Rubik's Cube, saying he is "trying to figure out how to twist the dials to get to 50 [votes] to replace this with something better."
Republicans had planned to vote on the bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act, ahead of the July 4 recess, but delayed a vote after it became clear that they did not have enough support to guarantee passage. In the coming weeks they are working on making changes to the bill that would bring together both factions of the party.
Trump tweeted his "repeal and delay" proposal shortly after Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., sent him a letter urging the White House to adopt a two-step strategy in which conservative senators focus on repealing Obamacare now. Sasse said Republicans do not appear to have the votes to pass the current bill and should focus on following through on the campaign promises both Trump and congressional Republicans ran on.Republicans initially had planned to vote again on a repeal bill that they passed under former President Barack Obama, which he vetoed, but backed off the strategy amid concerns about increasing rates of uninsurance and dwindling support.