WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell explored options for salvaging the battered Republican health care bill Wednesday but confronted an expanding chorus of GOP detractors, deepening the uncertainty over whether the party can resuscitate its bedrock promise to repeal President Barack Obama’s overhaul.
A day after McConnell, short of votes, unexpectedly abandoned plans to whisk the measure through his chamber this week, fresh GOP critics popped forward. Some senators emerged from a party lunch saying potential amendments were beyond cosmetic, with changes to Medicaid and Obama’s consumer-friendly insurance coverage requirements among the items in play.
“There’s a whole raft of things that people are talking about, and some of it’s trimming around the edges and some of it’s more fundamental,” said Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La. “Right now, they’re still kind of, ‘Can we do it?’ and I can’t answer that.”
Yet while this week’s retreat on a measure McConnell wrote behind closed doors dented his reputation as a consummate legislative seer, no one was counting him out.
“Once in Glacier National Park I saw two porcupines making love,” said Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan. “I’m assuming they produced smaller porcupines. They produced something. It has to be done carefully. That’s what we’re doing now.”
Having seen the House approve its health care package in May six weeks after an earlier version collapsed, Democrats were far from a victory dance.
“I expect to see buyouts and bailouts, backroom deals…
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