Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Tuesday he will schedule a vote to repeal Obamacare without a replacement plan "early next week," even though that approach lacks the votes mere hours after he suggested it.
The Kentucky Republican's proposal late Monday night to repeal Obamacare without replacing it was a plan B -- or plan C, if one considers the Senate's first failed attempt at health care legislation -- after he acquiesced on Monday that Senate Republicans lacked enough votes to pass their latest version of health care reform. But three Senate Republicans -- Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Maine Sen. Susan Collins and West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito -- have already indicated they will not vote to repeal the current law without a replacement plan, seemingly leaving the repeal-only option dead in the water.
That isn't stopping McConnell from trying.
"Well as I indicated last night, it's pretty clear that there are not 50 Republicans at the moment to vote for a replacement for Obamacare," McConnell told reporters after a policy lunch with other GOP senators. "Consequently, sometime in the near future we'll have a vote on repealing Obamacare, essentially the same vote that we had in 2015."
McConnell said, "that's a vote I think we're very likely to have in the very near future."
CBS News' Nancy Cordes, pointing out that he lacks the votes for his backup repeal plan, asked if Republicans will begin to work with Democrats.
"Well I think we'll have to see what happens," McConnell said.
"We will have demonstrated that Republicans by themselves are not prepared at this particular point to do a replacement," McConnell added. "And that doesn't mean the problems all go away, and you'll have to look at our committee chairman and their ranking members."
McConnell said it's his "suspicion" that there will be hearings on the topic. Democrats for weeks have criticized Republicans for having no hearings on legislation of this magnitude.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) pushed for more transparency in the process. The latest Senate GOP bill was crafted behind closed doors, and the details were kept hidden in the process.
President Trump's plan at this point is to simply, "Let Obamacare fail," saying he won't "own" that failure.
"It will be a lot easier," Mr. Trump said on Tuesday at a White House event with service members. "And I think we're probably in that position where we'll just let Obamacare fail. We're not going to own it. I'm not going to own it. I can tell you, the Republicans are not going to own it."
Live updates from earlier:
Schumer: Trump wants to throw up his hands, instead of roll up his sleeves
2:44 p.m. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York), said Mr. Trump wants to throw up his hands, rather than roll up his sleeves, by letting Obamacare collapse.
Mr. Trump, Schumer told reporters, is "actively" trying to undermine health care, and Republicans are playing a "dangerous game."
Schumer urged Republicans to work with Democrats, saying GOP senators have a "choice" to make.
He said the "president's path" is "not an acceptable choice.
"There's no pride here," Schumer said. "We want to do what's best for the American people."
McConnell says next step is simple repeal, although GOP lacks votes
2:38 p.m. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) told reporters it's clear there aren't enough votes to pass second version of the Senate GOP plan, so the Senate will hold a vote to simply repeal Obamacare in the "very near future."
"It's pretty obvious that we don't have 50 members who can agree on a replacement," McConnell said.
But it's unclear how McConnell plans to do that, as he seems to lack even the 50 votes to repeal Obamacare without a replacement.
"Well I think we'll have to see what happens," McConnell said, addressing that problem.
McConnell said the vote he is proposing -- to only repeal Obamacare -- will be "essentially the same vote that we had in 2015." In 2015, the Senate voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and then-President Obama vetoed the legislation. Senators assumed, correctly, that the president would not sign a repeal of his signature measure.
As to what else lies ahead, McConnell pointed to tax reform and infrastructure.
Rand Paul: I'm in favor of "partial repeal"
2:30 p.m. Kentucky GOP Sen. Rand Paul said he's in a favor of "partial repeal" of Obamacare if necessary, and that his colleagues who voted to repeal the law in 2015 but won't do so now have explaining to do back home in their districts.
Paul, one of the most conservative members on the health care issue, has pushed for a full repeal of Obamacare, which he sees as the ideal first step. Paul called Obamacare a failing system that needs to go.
"The death spiral of Obamacare is, regulations make insurance expensive," Paul told reporters.
"Let Obamacare fail," Trump says
2 p.m. The president said he is "disappointed" with Republicans' failure to devise a passable health care bill. Now, he says his plan is to, "let Obamacare fail."
Mr. Trump made the comments next to Pence, saying he wouldn't "own" the collapse of his predecessor's signature bill.
"I'm not going to own it," he said to open a White House event with military officers. "I can tell you that the Republicans are not going to own it. We'll let Obamacare fail and then the Democrats are going to come to us and they're going to say how do we fix it?"
Pence arrives on Capitol Hill
1:10 p.m. Vice President Mike Pence arrived on Capitol Hill at roughly 1 p.m., along with White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and Mr. Trump's director of legislative affairs, Marc Short.
Pence typically attends such GOP policy lunches, but the stakes are higher than usual at Tuesday's meeting.
3 GOP senators oppose repealing Obamacare without replacing, killing that idea
12:39 p.m. Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski ahead of the GOP policy lunch said she's a no on repealing Obamacare without replacing it, seemingly leaving that option dead in the water.
Other GOP Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia had already indicated they would not vote to repeal Obamacare without simultaneously introducing a replacement plan, sending Republicans back to the drawing board on health care. Mr. Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell were considering simply rolling back Obamacare, after Senate Republicans failed twice to gather enough votes to pass replacement legislation.
Murkowski and Capito did vote to repeal Obamacare without a replacement plan two years ago in 2015.