Top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell warns of possible bipartisanship on health care

PHOTO: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks during a press conference after a closed-door Senate GOP conference meeting on Capitol Hill, June 27, 2017, in Washington, D.C. PlayDrew Angerer/Getty Images
WATCH Trump promises 'great, great surprise' health care package

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's public warning that Republicans might have to reach across the aisle if they can’t craft a workable health care bill came as an abrupt shift in rhetoric from the past two months, when the Kentucky Republican repeatedly noted that drafting the health care bill was up to the GOP.

“Either Republicans will agree and change the status quo or ... we’ll have to sit down with [Democratic Leader Chuck] Schumer,” he said after leaving a White House meeting with President Trump and most of the Senate Republican conference.

McConnell's comments could be read as a threat to his conference to fall in line, an acknowledgement of a possible outcome or something else. A spokesman for the majority leader declined to elaborate on this remark, but based on McConnell's past public statements, it is at the very least a stark deviation from his prior message.

Aides to McConnell pushed back on the notion that McConnell’s publicly mentioning Schumer was new or noticeable, telling ABC News “he has said that 100 times” and sending a link to a story published Tuesday citing people familiar with his thinking.

But as of this story’s publication, they had not provided any example of McConnell’s making this point in public.

Here is a look at some of McConnell's past comments on working with Democrats to pass health care legislation:

May 2 -- two days before the House cleared its version of the Republican health care overhaul.

“The two top priorities of the administration of Senate and the House of Republicans are revisions to health care, repeal and replacing Obamacare and comprehensive tax reform. There is a pathway to achieve both of those without Democratic cooperation.”

May 9

“We're in the process of working together to get to at least 50 Republicans, because no Democrats are interested in participating to change the status quo, which is completely unacceptable.”

May 23

The Democrats are not interested in fixing this problem. They've made it -- they've made it very, very clear -- they have no interest whatsoever in fixing the status quo.”

June 13

“Unfortunately, it will have to be a Republicans-only exercise. But we're working hard to get there.”

June 20

[Democrats] made it clear earlier they were not interested in participating in this. They have no interest in it whatsoever,” he said on th. “We know they don't want to participate in what we're trying to achieve, which is to change Obamacare and make it better.”

June 27

“[Democrats are] not interested in participating in this.”

Comments