Dems hold off on Trump health bill, GOP retreat

The Senate on Thursday avoided a second failed attempt to pass a health care bill in the House, with Democrats and Republicans holding off on the legislation, a move that could signal a return to normalcy in Washington for a GOP-controlled Congress and President Donald Trump.

The vote came just hours after Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said he would not seek a procedural vote on the bill, but the chamber will take up a bill with a similar Republican plan.

That plan would repeal much of the ACA’s Medicaid expansion, but leave in place a handful of Medicaid subsidies and Medicaid expansion that are part of the bill.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on Thursday urged Democrats to reject the House bill and instead work on a bipartisan replacement plan.

He also told reporters that he would hold a vote on a new version of the GOP bill next week.

The House bill passed by a wide margin Wednesday night with just 50 votes, while the Senate bill would have required 60 votes.

But after weeks of speculation about whether a deal might emerge, McConnell announced that he had come to the conclusion that a deal is possible with Democrats, and said that he was willing to discuss a new bill with them.

“The president’s been very clear that we’re going to come to an agreement,” McConnell said Thursday morning, adding that the president has made it clear to Democrats that he will support the bill if they work with Republicans to come up with a replacement.

But McConnell’s comments were notable for the fact that the bill has been the subject of bipartisan pressure from both sides of the aisle.

The Republican effort, which failed to clear the 60-vote threshold needed to pass the chamber, was aimed at taking down Democrats’ ACA replacement plans that were unpopular with the public.

The Democratic effort, also called the Better Care Reconciliation Act, would have repealed much of ACA’s expansion of Medicaid, and the bill would replace many of the health insurance subsidies with tax credits.

The bill would also have expanded Medicaid by more than a million people, while allowing states to opt out of certain provisions that were critical to keeping the expansion alive.

Senate Republicans had said they planned to introduce their own version of their health care plan.

Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin, D of Ill., said that “Democrats and Republicans have agreed that we need to move forward with a plan that works and is fair to the American people.”

“I am proud that the Senate is continuing to work on bipartisan solutions that will strengthen our health care system and improve the lives of hardworking Americans,” Durbins office said in a statement.

McConnell and Trump had previously discussed the possibility of a deal but never went further, with McConnell saying on Twitter on Wednesday night that “it is time to get the job done.”

But Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday morning said he had agreed to work with Democrats to come together on a replacement for the House’s health care legislation.

“I have agreed to talk to members of both parties on a plan for a bipartisan solution to the Affordable Care Act,” McConnell tweeted.

“It is time for bipartisan consensus.”

He also said that if the House version of its bill fails to pass, the Senate would work on its own.

But it was unclear whether that would happen.

“While the Senate continues to work to produce a comprehensive plan that is worthy of the American public’s support, it is important that we work with House Republicans and the American American people to get a bill to President Trump’s desk before the end of the week,” McConnell’s office said.

“If we can’t reach agreement, I will be meeting with President Trump at the White House tomorrow morning and will continue to work for the best possible legislation.”

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