Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell heads to a meeting on Capitol Hill on June 27, 2017. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell decided on Tuesday to delay a vote on healthcare legislation in order to get more support from Republican senators, according to a Senate aide, a move that averted a potentially disastrous defeat by members of his own party.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump summoned all 52 Republican senators to the White House on Tuesday afternoon to discuss how to proceed.
McConnell had been pushing for a vote ahead of the July 4 recess that starts at the end of this week on the legislation to advance a repeal of major elements of Obamacare and replace it with a new federal healthcare program.
The delay in the vote was a sign that McConnell and Trump have failed so far to attract enough votes amid a solid block of Democratic opposition and attacks from both moderate and conservative Republican senators.
Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski confirmed that the vote had been put off. “Nothing this week,” she told reporters as she left a Senate Republican luncheon.
With a razor-thin majority in the Senate, McConnell needs support from at least 50 Republicans. But while the House of Representatives narrowly passed a bill last month to replace Obamacare, the Senate version appeared to be stalled on Tuesday.
Republican lawmakers’ overlapping concerns and competing interests have presented McConnell with a balancing act. Moderate senators worry that millions of people would lose their insurance. Conservatives say the bill does not do enough to erase Democratic former President Barack Obama’s signature domestic legislation.
The bill’s prospects were not helped by an analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office on Monday saying the measure would cause 22 million Americans to lose medical insurance over the next decade. The report prompted Senator Susan Collins, a key moderate vote, to say she could not support moving forward on the bill as it stands.
Passing the measure would hand Trump a legislative win as he seeks to emerge from weeks of questions over Russia’s role in last year’s U.S. presidential election.