The White House is ramping up the pressure on Senate Republicans to pass a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare before the congressional recess in August, despite Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's concern about committing to a specific deadline, The Hill reported.
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price is spearheading the pressure. Although the White House realizes it can backfire to set deadlines, it insists Republican senators would reap political dividends if they could secure a victory as they head back to their home states.
In addition, if the Senate passes the bill by the recess, it would also enable congressional negotiators to use the break to merge the separate House and Senate proposals.
But if the GOP fails to pass the bill before the break, it could be much more difficult to find the time to do it, because the second half of the year is already packed with other important items on the GOP agenda, such as a 2018 budget, tax reform, an annual defense policy bill et al.
Republicans fear a delay could bog down and sideline their entire agenda. Already a string of controversies about Trump this month have overshadowed the legislative efforts.
Some GOP senators are optimistic that Price's deadline can be met, but The Huffington Post reports that the Republicans are nowhere near reaching agreement among themselves and have made only a little headway in resolving those differences, despite holding regular meetings in order to resolve the disputes.
And the GOP does not have much leeway, as they hold 52 seats in the Senate and, since no Democrats are expected to vote for the legislation, could afford losing only two Republican votes for the bill to pass.
Despite pressure from Price to get the legislation done and optimism from some Republican senators, McConnell has remained noncommittal, saying only that they are "all about healthcare these days ... which we will move forward sometime in the near future," The Hill reports.
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