Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is tempering expectations that the Senate will pass an overhaul of the nation’s healthcare system, promising his colleagues a vote but not success.
McConnell in his public comments and private conversations about the ObamaCare repeal-and-replace bill is painting a more sober picture than Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who in March guaranteed passage through the House.
McConnell is stopping well short of any grand pronouncement.
He says he will bring a bill to the floor for a vote but is not making any promises whether he will get at least 50 members of the 52-member Senate Republican Conference to back it.
“Mitch has been very clear in our conference, and that is there will be a bill and we will be voting on it,” said Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.).
But that’s as far as the GOP leader has been willing to go.
“He hasn’t gone beyond explaining that,” said Heller, who recently met with the special working group that is negotiating the healthcare bill.
McConnell warned in an interview with Reuters that passing healthcare reform will be tougher than tax reform, another of President Trump’s top priorities.
Expectations for repealing major parts of ObamaCare soared after the House passed its bill earlier this month, but McConnell cautions the votes in the Senate aren’t there yet.
What’s more, he’s not sure of the path to success.
“I don’t know how we get to 50 [votes] at the moment. But that’s the goal. And exactly what the composition of that [bill] is I’m not going to speculate about because it serves no purpose,” McConnell told Reuters on Wednesday.
Ryan sounded a much more bullish tone in March.