Speed Reads


Late-night Senate GOP meeting to resuscitate ObamaCare repeal ends with cautious optimism, little progress

A group of at least 20 Republican senators met for nearly three hours in Sen. John Barrasso's (R-Wyo.) office on Wednesday night, hoping to hash out their differences on health-care legislation and revive a push to repeal and maybe replace the Affordable Care Act that had been declared dead earlier this week. At various points, Senate aides and members of President Trump's Cabinet were part of the meeting, but the get-together ended with just the GOP senators talking among themselves. "We're at our best when we're among ourselves," Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) said afterward.

Several senators said after the meeting that it was productive and made them more optimistic that they could pass some form of ObamaCare repeal next week, though none of them was sure what legislation Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will have them vote on. The senators said there were no breakthroughs, however, and they still appear to be short the votes to pass either McConnell's repeal-and-replace bill or the repeal-and-delay backup plan, especially with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) sidelined by brain cancer treatment. "We do have work to do to get to a vote of 50," Barrasso said.

Unidentified people familiar with the meeting told The Washington Post it had been set up by the White House to help persuade reluctant senators to support McConnell's repeal-and-replace bill, though at least two of the four GOP senators on record opposing that bill — Sens. Rand Paul (Ky.) and Susan Collins (Maine) — did not attend; Barrasso told Politico the meeting had been planned before Wednesday's lunch at the White House, where Trump had told GOP senators to give up their August recess to work on health-care legislation and needled senators wary of the bill. Between the lunch meeting and late-night conference, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the repeal-and-delay bill would leave 17 million more people uninsured next year and 32 million more uninsured in a decade.