The Search For 50 Votes

It was an all nighter for GOP Senate leaders as they search for 50 votes to open a debate on ObamaCare repeal-and-replace legislation.

And a change in tactics.

The meeting between lawmakers came after a scolding at the White House from President Trump, who demanded they come up with a solution to the repeal and replace ObamaCare.

The move reverses course from their plans to move to a vote on a straight repeal of ObamaCare.

It’s not clear if they will have any more luck this time in corralling enough centrist and conservative Republicans to move the bill forward.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) needs to win 50 votes to proceed and has faced opposition from conservatives, who believe the previous bill kept too much of ObamaCare, and centrists, who think it would leave too many people without affordable insurance.

GOP leaders haven’t closed the door on bringing a straight repeal of ObamaCare, with a two-year delay, to the floor.

But Trump, on Wednesday told Republican senators at a White House lunch that repealing ObamaCare without a replacement was not an option.

“We can repeal it, but we should repeal it and replace, and we shouldn’t leave town until this is complete, until this bill is on my desk,” Trump said.

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn from Texas told reporters that while the repeal-only bill might come to the floor, he preferred to negotiate a version of the repeal-and-replace bill, known as the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA).

“If we can get an agreement here, my preference would be to start with the BCRA, agree to language — and I think we’re getting closer,” he said.