McConnell plows ahead despite setback of delayed vote on Senate's healthcare bill

Donald Trump speaking
Until the last few days, President Donald Trump took a smaller role in negotiations aimed at winning support for the Senate's healthcare bill than he did in the House's effort to pass the American Health Care Act. (whitehouse.gov)

The decision to delay a vote on the Senate's healthcare bill may make its path to passage even more difficult, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is not giving up yet.

McConnell plans to revise the Better Care Reconciliation Act this week and send a new version to the Congressional Budget Office by as early as this Friday, The Washington Post reports. Though it's unclear which parts of the bill are being revised, McConnell and his aides plan to continue negotiations through the end of the week.

The idea is to have a new CBO score in hand when Congress returns in mid-July and be able to vote on the revised bill before the August recess, the article adds.

RELATED: CBO score does little to ease Senate bill's uphill battle

In his bid to do so, McConnell will face a steep challenge. He can only afford to lose two GOP votes, and nine Republicans are now publicly opposed to the bill, The Wall Street Journal reported. Some of the hardline conservatives among them, though, have indicated a willingness to negotiate and potentially change their positions.

Even President Donald Trump, who met with Senate Republicans on Tuesday shortly after the delay was announced, conceded that failure to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act was possible.  

“This will be great if we get it done, 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 OK and I understand that very well,” he said in his public remarks before reporters were ushered out.

Until the last few days, Trump was much less involved in the Senate’s push to pass healthcare legislation than he was with the House’s effort, The New York Times reported. Instead, the White House relied on Vice President Mike Pence to head up negotiations with senators, though Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did ask Trump to call Tuesday’s meeting with GOP senators.

Meanwhile, the bill's opponents are preparing to use the recess as the opportunity to whip up opposition to the bill, according to (sub. req.) The Washington Post.

In addition, more than half a dozen Republican governors have either voiced major concerns about or outright opposed the measure, another Times article (sub. req.) noted. One of their major issues is the deep cuts to Medicaid that the bill would make—also a problem for Senate centrists.