Senate will stick with working on health care bill

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USA Today Network
Morgan Watkins, The (Louisville) Courier-Journal

Published 10:36 p.m. ET June 30, 2017 | Updated 10:40 p.m. ET June 30, 2017

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Sen. Mitch McConnell slams the Democrats’ efforts to preserve Obamacare during the Hardin County GOP’s Lincoln Day Dinner.
Sam Upshaw Jr./Courier-Journal/USA TODAY Network

LOUISVILLE — Although his conservative comrades in the Senate are still butting heads over a controversial health care bill, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky was optimistic about the potential for compromise Friday evening.

President Trump tweeted Friday that congressional Republicans should consider repealing the Affordable Care Act — popularly known as Obamacare — first and then work on a replacement. Kentucky’s other Republican senator, Rand Paul, has expressed support for that idea.

But McConnell told reporters Friday that he and his colleagues in the Senate will stick to working on their current health care bill, which would repeal and replace the ACA simultaneously. 

Speaking to a friendly crowd in Elizabethtown during a fundraiser for the Republican Party of Hardin County, McConnell compared his current predicament to holding a Rubik’s cube.

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The Senate majority leader said he’s “trying to figure out how to twist the dials” to get enough votes to pass this proposal, which is expected to slash hundreds of billions of dollars from Medicaid over time and reduce some of the taxes paid by wealthy Americans.

Rolling back the ACA was a signature issue for Republicans during last year’s election, and some conservative lawmakers have suggested shortening or eliminating Congress’s recess in August so they’ll have more time to work on that as well as other priorities.

McConnell didn’t offer a definitive opinion about that idea Friday evening. Instead, he said, “We’ll see what we need to do.”

During his speech to a roomful of Hardin County Republicans on Friday, McConnell said he is confident that comprehensive tax reform — another key goal for the GOP — will happen.

Despite the deep divisions between Republicans and Democrats, McConnell said he sees infrastructure as an area where their interests may intersect. But Democrats aren’t interested in comprehensive tax reform, he said. Instead, they’d prefer “raising taxes on people who are productive.”

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Sen. Mitch McConnell said wrestling with an Obamacare repeal is like working with a Rubik’s Cube during the Hardin County GOP’s Lincoln Day Dinner.
Sam Upshaw Jr./Courier-Journal/USA TODAY Network

America is a land of second opportunities, he said. There are only two ways to fail in this country: Give up or die.

“Do we want it to be a country in which risk-taking is applauded and failure is possible? Yes,” he said. “Failure has to be possible or you can’t have success.”

As McConnell spoke at the Historic State Theater in Elizabethtown on Friday evening, a small but passionate group of people concerned about the future of health care in America gathered across the street.

Approximately 85 people stood together, chanting and waving anti-McConnell signs as passers-by occasionally honked their horns in solidarity or yelled “Trump” as they drove by.

Abbey Sorrells, 22, of Elizabethtown, who works at a rape crisis center, said she came to the rally with some friends who are part of a group called the Heartland Progressive Alliance. 

“Healthcare not Wealthcare,” read the sign she carried.

“I just feel like the health care bill’s really for the 1%,” she said. 

Audrey Morrison, 68, of Louisville drove down to Elizabethtown to join her daughter, who interns for Planned Parenthood. 

“I hope that we persist,” she said, because the Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act isn’t a done deal yet.

Morrison said she didn’t expect the rally to change McConnell’s mind.

“I think he’s been bought and sold. I don’t think anything’s going to make a difference to him,” she said. 

However, she still hopes Kentucky voters, who’ve repeatedly elected McConnell to the Senate for the past 30 years, will finally turn against him and call for change. 

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Senate will stick with working on health care bill

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