McConnell says health care debate to continue

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the Republican effort to overhaul the Obama health law (all times local):

10:40 a.m.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says the partisan debate over the country’s health care system will “certainly continue.”

The Kentucky Republican spoke as he tries to decide whether to hold a vote on the latest GOP bill repealing President Barack Obama’s law. That measure seems almost certain to be defeated if a roll call were held.

The Republican legislation would transform much of “Obamacare‘s” spending into grants states could spend on health programs with few constraints.

McConnell called that proposal a “stark contrast” to a plan by Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders. That measure is backed by many Democrats and would create government-run health insurance.

McConnell says Sanders’ plan would “rip” health insurance from people. He called the issue an important debate and said, “It’s one that we’ll certainly continue.”

Related: Collins’ opposition all but kills GOP health care drive

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9:35 a.m.

The White House says it believes a Senate health care bill that appears headed for defeat is “still good legislation.”

Spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders says the White House is “fully committed” to improving the health care system and that the Senate bill would do that.

With no Democratic support expected, three “no” votes from Republicans would appear to doom the bill. Republicans control 52 Senate seats and Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, John McCain of Arizona and Rand Paul of Kentucky have said they will not vote for the bill.

Sanders held out hope that opposing lawmakers might change their minds, or that undecided senators — like Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — will support it.

Senate Republican leaders have conceded that prospects for passing the measure this week appear dismal.

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3:43 a.m.

Republican Sen. Susan Collins’ decision to oppose the GOP push to repeal President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul leaves the effort all but dead. Even party leaders concede that their prospects are dismal.

South Dakota Sen. John Thune, the No. 3 GOP Senate leader, says reviving the push would be a heavy lift.

Thune made the comment after Collins joined a small but pivotal cluster of Republicans saying they’re against the measure.

GOP Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas are also against the legislation, though Cruz aides say he might back it if changes are made. Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski is a Republican who’s undecided.

With their narrow Senate majority, defections by three GOP senators would doom the bill.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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