Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) put the kibosh on the Senate considering a comprehensive health care overhaul, after President Trump had promised an Obamacare replacement “far better” than the law Republicans failed to repeal in 2017.
McConnell told reporters Tuesday on Capitol Hill that he had spoken to Trump Monday about his plans, after he was asked if he and the President were in different places on replacing the Affordable Care Act.
“Not any longer,” McConnell said, answering that question.
McConnell said he was fine with lawmakers working on narrower health care issues — such as prescription drug prices— but, he stressed that “we will not be doing comprehensive [health care] in the Senate.”
He pointed to the Democrats’ control of the House, and said it was his understanding that Trump would develop a health care plan he could tout during the 2020 campaign, in case Republicans win back both chambers of Congress.
McConnell’s reluctance to let his caucus get involved again with repealing the Affordable Care Act comes after years that he campaigned aggressively against the law and even put it up for a repeal vote while President Obama was still in the White House.
After a 2018 election cycle where voters were motivated by Republicans failed attempts to dismantle Obamacare, Trump’s efforts last week to put it back on the political front burner took Congress by surprise.
Those efforts included the Justice Department changing its posture in a court case attacking the Affordable Care Act. After previously asking that just Obamacare’s protections for pre-existing conditions be knocked down in the case, the Trump administration is now asking for the entire law to be thrown out.
The anti-Obamacare legal arguments in the case are widely considered to be questionable, at best. Yet the case, currently at the appellate court stage, is still likely to be appealed to the Supreme Court.
On Tuesday, McConnell did not seemed concerned whether that meant Congress would then need to start working on an Obamacare replacement.
“There’s no point in pushing the panic button, the court system takes a long time to resolve these issues,” McConnell said.