The Latest: McConnell looking to salvage health care plan

Markets Associated Press

The Latest on Republican legislation to repeal and replace the Obama health care law (all times local):

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7:30 p.m.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is exploring options for salvaging the battered Republican health care bill. But he's confronting a growing chorus of GOP detractors. And there's deepening uncertainty over whether the party can resuscitate its bedrock promise to repeal President Barack Obama's overhaul. A day after McConnell unexpectedly abandoned plans to whisk the measure through his chamber this week because he lacked the votes, fresh GOP critics popped forward.

6 p.m.

A small group of disabled rights activists is in its second day of a sit-in inside Sen. Cory Gardner's Denver office to protest the Senate health care bill.

The activists say they will not leave until Republican Gardner promises to oppose the legislation. They arrived on Tuesday to demand a meeting with him and stayed overnight when they were told they could not get one.

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The office building would not let reporters inside Wednesday. Activist Dawn Russell said by telephone that spirits were high and a pizza just arrived.

Gardner did not say whether he'd support the legislation before Majority Leader Mitch McConnell postponed a vote on the bill Tuesday. But the Colorado senator notably is not one of the Republicans who have publicly stated their opposition to the measure.

2:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump says the Republican health care effort is "working along very well" and suggested there could be a "big surprise coming." The White House did not elaborate on what Trump meant.

Earlier Wednesday, Trump told reporters getting approval of a Senate health care bill will be "very tough." But he predicted that Republicans will at least "get very close" and may "get it over the line."

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell postponed a vote on the Republican health care bill this week because he lacked the votes.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is calling on Trump to meet with Republicans and Democrats on the Senate bill. Asked about the request, Trump said Wednesday that Schumer "hasn't been serious."

He added: "Obamacare is such a disaster, such a wreck. And he wants to try and save something that's really hurting a lot of people."

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1:35 p.m.

Count Maine's Republican Gov. Paul LePage among those opposing the Senate health care bill.

LePage was asked if he backs the legislation and he said no, complaining that the bill doesn't go far enough to fix current law. Maine GOP Sen. Susan Collins opposes the bill.

LePage, who was at the White House on Wednesday, said he met with Collins Wednesday morning.

Collins is one of nearly 10 Republicans who have expressed opposition to the bill. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell postponed a vote this week because he lacked the votes.

Several Republicans governors — among them Ohio's John Kasich and Nevada's Brian Sandoval — oppose the bill, fearing the cost to states if Medicaid expansion is phased out.

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12:10 p.m.

President Donald Trump says getting approval of a Senate health care bill will be "very tough." But he predicts that Republicans will at least "get very close" and may "get it over the line."

Speaking at the White House Wednesday, Trump said his meeting with most of the Republican senators Tuesday was "tremendous."

The Senate delayed its consideration of the measure vote until after the July 4 holiday after failing to get the minimum number of votes needed to begin debate.

He says, "I think we are at least going to get very close or get it over the line."

Trump says it's "always tough" to pass a health care bill because the needs of every state are different, but he added, "I think health care is going to be great."

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11:05 a.m.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka says the labor organization is running ad and social media campaigns in five key states kill the stalled Senate health care bill outright.

Trumka told reporters in a conference call Wednesday that the bill would deprive millions of working people of health insurance. The federation is running thousands of ads to pressure Senate Republicans in Alaska, Ohio, West Virginia, Nevada and Maine. He is urging Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska to join other Republicans in opposing the bill.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell postponed consideration of the bill the after it failed to get enough GOP support to even begin debate. He said majority Republicans want to try again later in July.

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7:10 a.m.

President Donald Trump is taking issue with a New York Times story that portrays him as disengaged in the push for the Senate Republican health care bill.

Early Wednesday, Trump tweeted that "The failing @nytimes writes false story after false story about me."

Trump added: "Some of the Fake News Media likes to say that I am not totally engaged in healthcare. Wrong, I know the subject well & want victory for U.S."

The Times, in its Wednesday editions, said Trump was less involved in the press for the Senate bill than with the earlier House bill — making fewer phone calls to senators, for instance.

The newspaper said an unidentified senator who supports the bill left a meeting with Trump at the White House on Tuesday "with a sense that the president did not have a grasp of some basic elements of the Senate plan."

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4:19 a.m.

The Republican Party's long-promised repeal of "Obamacare" stands in limbo after Senate GOP leaders, short of support, abruptly shelved a vote on legislation aimed at redeeming the pledge.

The surprise development leaves the legislation's fate uncertain while raising new doubts about whether President Donald Trump will ever make good on his many promises to erase his predecessor's signature legislative achievement.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell announced the delay Tuesday after it became clear the votes weren't there to advance the legislation past key procedural hurdles.