Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, insisted Friday that the fight to repeal and replace Obamacare is "not over."
Meadows made the statement during an interview with the Washington Examiner just hours after three Republican senators voted with Democrats against the so-called "skinny repeal" of Obamacare, which some billed as a last-ditch effort to get rid of the 2010 law.
GOP Sens. John McCain (Ariz.), Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) joined with 48 Senate Democrats to kill the measure 51-49, which would have repealed some of the most unpopular parts of Obamacare. McCain said he voted against the legislation because “while the amendment would have repealed some of Obamacare’s most burdensome regulations, it offered no replacement to actually reform our health care system and deliver affordable, quality health care to our citizens.”
Democrats celebrated the defeat early Friday morning, but Meadows said he's not giving up — at least not yet.
Meadows told the Examiner he is currently working with a number of senators on legislation that could pass both the House and Senate. Meadows said the plan, whose details lawmakers are still debating, will be able to meet the minimum vote thresholds in both houses of Congress.
Had just one of the three GOP holdouts voted for the bill, Vice President Mike Pence would have cast the deciding vote and the legislation would have passed.
In fact, Pence even went to Capitol Hill late Thursday night in anticipation of breaking the tie. Pence's vote was not needed, however, as any chance of Republicans actually doing what they promised for seven years, seemed to fade entirely. No doubt a severe setback, Meadows remained optimistic about Republicans' chances.
"I believe we deliver, still, on health care," Meadows told the Examiner. "To suggest that everything is over is not understanding the dynamics going on right now in the Senate. It's not over."
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said early Friday morning, "I regret that our efforts were simply not enough this time."
Over in the House, Meadows echoed the top GOP senator's sentiment.
"We can be disappointed with the results," Meadows said, according to the Examiner. But, he added, "at this point, this is one try on the Senate side."
"We probably have two more tries before we have to pack it up and go home," Meadows predicted.
Among the ideas that Meadows is reportedly working with Senate Republicans on are amendments by Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas), Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Sen. Rob Portman (Ohio) and Sen. Bill Cassidy (La.). The Examiner summarized each of these proposals in the following way:
Cruz, of Texas, sponsored an amendment that would allow health insurers to offer a range of plans, which proponents believe would lower premiums, while Portman, of Ohio, offered a proposal to shore up Medicaid with additional federal spending to ensure low-income earners don't get shut out of health care. Graham, of South Carolina, and Cassidy, of Louisiana, have their own plan they are eager to try to pass, which would give states control of Obamacare dollars.
The amendments are currently awaiting a score from the Congressional Budget Office.