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Senate GOP Shelves Vote on Latest Health Care Proposal

Sen. Bill Cassidy was pushing for a vote on a proposal to replace the current health insurance system this week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Sen. Bill Cassidy was pushing for a vote on a proposal to replace the current health insurance system this week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate will not vote on a proposal to overhaul the 2010 health care law this week, senators said after Republicans hosted Vice President Mike Pence at their weekly closed-door lunches on Tuesday.

Consideration of the bill will be “postponed until we can get the votes,” Republican Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., said after the lunch.

The announcement marks the latest in a string of failed attempts by Senate Republicans to repeal the 2010 health law. It also raises serious questions over whether Republicans will ever be able to acheive their seven-year campaign promise.

While no formal vote was scheduled for the bill from Sens. Bill Cassidy of Lousiana, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Dean Heller of Nevada, one was expected as early as Wednesday.

Still, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said his party would keep trying. 

“We haven’t given up on changing the American health care system,” the Kentucky Republican said at Tuesday’s traditional post-lunch news conferences.

Republicans wanted to utilize the budget reconciliation process to advance the legislation with only GOP support. That vehicle expires after Sept. 30, a deadline that spurred lawmakers to try to act quickly to advance the bill.

The decision to not hold a vote on the proposal — which would essentially turn all current federal funding for the health law into a massive block grant to states — defies a direct request from President Donald Trump, who was pushing the chamber to take the measure up.

“President Trump is committed to repealing and replacing the disastrous Obamacare law with the patient-centered Graham-Cassidy legislation that will begin to fix our broken healthcare system, and relieve middle class Americans of the rising premiums and high deductibles that are a result of Obamacare,” a White House official said Tuesday morning.

Some Republicans have floated the idea of using the fiscal year 2018 reconciliation instructions to try to again repeal the law. The GOP is set to use that fast-track mechanism to try to advance an overhaul of the U.S. tax code. Combining the two would be an extremely tall order.

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