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GOP leader Kevin McCarthy: We hope to vote Friday

Story highlights

  • Kevin McCarthy said he's aiming for a vote Friday
  • But he said Republicans need to get the GOP united around the bill
His comments to CNN's Dana Bash in an interview on "The Lead with Jake Tapper" came shortly after he delayed a scheduled vote on the bill amid ongoing disagreement within the Republican conference. The California Republican said he intends to bring the vote forward on Friday, and sought to downplay the significance of a delay that signaled the bill was potentially on the brink of failure.

"We will vote tonight on a rule that'll allow us to vote tomorrow," McCarthy said. "It's our hope that we'd be voting tomorrow."

The vote has faced its most significant opposition so far from the conservative House Freedom Caucus, led by Rep. Mark Meadows, R-North Carolina. Members of the group met with President Donald Trump several times this week, including Thursday, and despite concessions from the President and House Speaker Paul Ryan to make the bill more conservative, Meadows and others still said they were against the bill.

McCarthy allowed that the meetings had so far failed to garner enough support for the bill to pass, saying Trump had made "progress" but that Republican leadership still needs to convince "a couple more" lawmakers to support the bill before moving forward.

"We just need to make sure that everybody is there," McCarthy said.

Conservatives in both houses of Congress have called for additions to the bill that would repeal even more of Obamacare, like the rule allowing young people to stay on their parents' health insurance through age 26. But GOP leadership has said it must tackle changes in future legislation, a so-called "third phase" of their health care strategy, due to the Senate procedure Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is relying on to pass the bill without the threat of a filibuster.

"Unfortunately, because of the Senate rules, we can't put everything in the bill that we would like to," McCarthy said. "It is difficult moving in three phases because of the Senate rules."

McCarthy said his fellow Republican members of the House would get together Thursday evening and hammer out their differences, saying that by the time he let it go to the House floor for a vote, he would have enough support to get it passed.

"I know we'll get this done," McCarthy said. "We'll start the debate tomorrow morning."

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