Senate returns to work as GOP searches again for health care deal

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The U.S. Senate reconvened after a ten day break with Republican Senators still at odds with each other over how best to push through a bill to overhaul the Obama health law, with the White House pressing GOP Senators to stick together, as the Senate Majority Leader arguing the system has been “hurtling toward collapse for years.”

“Too many seem to have forgotten that even more people will be hurt if the Obamacare status quo is allowed to continue,” Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said as he opened the Senate.

“Today it sits on the edge of total meltdown,” McConnell said. “Unless we do something about that, even more Americans are going to get hurt.”

Absent from McConnell’s remarks were any update on where negotiations stand among GOP Senators, who had planned on a health care vote in late June, but were forced to delay their work.

There was talk in the halls of the Capitol that Republicans could unveil new changes to their draft health care plan later this week, but there was no guarantee those would attract enough votes to get the bill through the Senate.

Meanwhile, the message from the White House as Senators returned was one of being committed to the GOP health care effort, with officials saying the goal remains to get it done before lawmakers leave Washington on July 28, for a summer break that lasts until Labor Day.

But Legislative Director Marc Short also made clear that the President might ask Congress to stick around.

As for Democrats, they returned to D.C. with a fresh demand for bipartisan work on health care – an idea that has been frowned upon by the White House and most Republicans.

“We believe it is important for the Senate to focus on common sense reforms,” top Democrats wrote in a letter to the Senate Majority Leader, as they listed several ideas in a Monday letter.

“Even after weeks of work, it seems my friends on the other side are no closer to having enough votes to proceed to their bill,” said Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer.

“When you can’t defend the substance of the bill, it’s time to move on,” Schumer said.


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