Monday, 24 Jun 2024

McConnell says infrastructure, healthcare on 2019 U.S. Senate agenda

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said on Wednesday infrastructure and healthcare would be on the agenda in 2019, after Republicans widened their majority in the Senate but lost control of the House of Representatives in Tuesday’s elections.

McConnell told reporters that senators likely would tackle Obamacare fixes and prescription drug prices but that changes to Medicare and Social Security were unlikely. Additionally, any new tax legislation would need bipartisan support, he said.

Republicans and Democrats have battled each other fiercely in the near-decade since Democratic healthcare legislation that became known as Obamacare began moving through Congress.

Once it became law in 2010 without Republican support, Republicans launched a long drive to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Their effort came to a halt in 2017 with Senate defeat of a repeal bill.

Last month, in an interview with Reuters, McConnell said he would be willing to try another Obamacare repeal if he had the votes. But one day after Democrats regained control of the House in Tuesday’s elections, McConnell spoke in softer tones.

“I think it’s pretty obvious the Democratic House is not going to be interested in that,” McConnell said at a news conference. While there are “serious problems” with Obamacare, he said, “We’re going to have to obviously now address those on a bipartisan basis.”

On another controversial topic, funding President Donald Trump’s U.S.-Mexico border wall proposal, McConnell said he is “going to try to help the president achieve what he’d like.” But again, he said there would have to be “some kind of bipartisan discussion.”

Last month, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, who is likely to become House speaker next year, said she was not interested in negotiating any deal that would include building the border wall, which Democrats and some Republicans have described as a waste of money.

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