(CNSNews.com) – Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters at the White House Wednesday that the Senate will vote next week on a motion to proceed, saying Republican senators wouldn’t be able to honor their commitment to the voters to repeal or replace Obamacare “unless we get on the bill.”
McConnell and other Republican senators had lunch with the president to discuss the health care bill.
“We just had a great lunch with the president, and I want to start by thanking the president, the vice president, Tom Price, and Seema Verma, who’ve been totally engaged in everything we’ve done for the last two weeks. As you know, the president likes to talk on the phone. We’ve had a lot of conversations,” McConnell said.
“He’s talked to a lot of members, and one of the outgrowths of the discussion today is that the vice president, secretary of Health and Human Services, and head of CMS are going to be on Capitol Hill tonight working with some of our members, who at least so far have … had some difficulty in getting to yes,” he said.
McConnell said “yes” means voting for the motion to proceed.
“Let me describe what yes is. It’s the motion to proceed. We cannot keep the commitment we made to the American people to repeal or replace Obamacare unless we get on the bill. So next week we’ll be voting to get on the bill,” he said. “I would remind those of you who don’t cover Capitol Hill that this particular type of bill is totally open for amendment.
“There’s no way I or anybody else could prevent members from having amendments, that any 51 of us can pass and change the bill, but we cannot have a debate until we get on the bill, so next week we’ll be voting on the motion to proceed, and I have every expectation that we’ll be able to get on the bill,” McConnell said.
McConnell said Senate Republicans have two options.
“There is a large majority in conference that want to demonstrate to the American people that they intend to keep the commitment they made in four straight elections to repeal Obamacare,” he said.
“I think we all agree it’s better to both repeal and replace, but we could have a vote on either, and if we end up voting on repeal only, it will be fully amendable on the Senate floor, and if it were to pass without any amendment at all, it’s a two-year delay before it kicks in, so the takeaway from what I’m telling you is, no harm is done by getting on the bill,” McConnell said.
The bill would be “wide open for amendment,” he said. “No matter what I offer as a substitute first, it’s fully amendable.”
As CNSNews.com previously reported, President Donald Trump tweeted: “As I have always said, let ObamaCare fail and then come together and do a great healthcare plan. Stay tuned!”
That same day, he tweeted: “Republicans should just REPEAL failing Obamacare now work on a new Healthcare Plan that will start from a clean slate. Dems will join in!”
But on Wednesday, as the president announced his lunch with GOP senators to discuss health care, tweeting: “The Republicans never discuss how good their healthcare bill is, it will get even better at lunchtime. The Dems scream death as OCare dies!”
When asked whether McConnell is experiencing “political whiplash” given Trump’s comments on Wednesday, McConnell expressed confidence that there will be a vote next week on the motion to proceed on the health care bill.
“It’s pretty obvious we’ve had difficulty in getting 50 votes to proceed, but what I want to disabuse any of you of is the notion that we will not have that vote next week. We’re gonna vote on the motion to proceed to the bill next week,” he said.