McConnell looking to salvage health care plan; Trump says effort is ‘working very well’

Published 8:08 am Thursday, June 29, 2017

WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is exploring options for salvaging the battered Republican health care bill.

But he’s confronting a growing chorus of GOP detractors. And there’s deepening uncertainty over whether the party can resuscitate its bedrock promise to repeal President Barack Obama’s overhaul. A day after McConnell unexpectedly abandoned plans to whisk the measure through his chamber this week because he lacked the votes, fresh GOP critics popped forward.

A small group of disabled rights activists is in its second day of a sit-in inside Sen. Cory Gardner’s Denver office to protest the Senate health care bill.

The activists say they will not leave until Republican Gardner promises to oppose the legislation. They arrived on Tuesday to demand a meeting with him and stayed overnight when they were told they could not get one.

The office building would not let reporters inside Wednesday. Activist Dawn Russell said by telephone that spirits were high and a pizza just arrived.

Gardner did not say whether he’d support the legislation before Majority Leader Mitch McConnell postponed a vote on the bill Tuesday. But the Colorado senator notably is not one of the Republicans who have publicly stated their opposition to the measure.

President Donald Trump says the Republican health care effort is “working along very well” and suggested there could be a “big surprise coming.” The White House did not elaborate on what Trump meant.

Earlier Wednesday, Trump told reporters getting approval of a Senate health care bill will be “very tough.” But he predicted that Republicans will at least “get very close” and may “get it over the line.”

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell postponed a vote on the Republican health care bill this week because he lacked the votes.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is calling on Trump to meet with Republicans and Democrats on the Senate bill. Asked about the request, Trump said Wednesday that Schumer “hasn’t been serious.”

He added: “Obamacare is such a disaster, such a wreck. And he wants to try and save something that’s really hurting a lot of people.”