This, from Axios' Jonathan Swan
, captured the Senate majority leader's mentality well:
McConnell's logic made sense. Everyone knew that this would be a tough vote; changing the entire health care system, even if people don't love the status quo, is extremely difficult. The political high-wire act wouldn't change with more time and, in fact, might be made worse as senators returned to their home states and heard from their constituents about what, if polling is to be believed
, is a very unpopular bill.
The Kentucky Republican was adamant about the timing of the vote, right up until he wasn't anymore. On Tuesday, after a weekly lunch with his GOP colleagues, McConnell announced that the vote would be pushed until after the July 4 break -- an acknowledgment that he simply didn't have 50 votes (or anywhere close to it) in support of the legislation.
Senate Republicans bussed up to the White House following the concession of at-least-temporary defeat on Tuesday, where President Donald Trump, as usual, insisted progress was being made and a deal was in the offing. "We are going to see what we are going to do," Trump said
. "We are getting very close."
But Trump wasn't done!
Even as McConnell worked behind-the-scenes to find a way to allay the concerns of conservatives, who didn't believe the bill went far enough to repeal Obamacare, and centrists, who worried about Medicaid cuts and the 22 million more people who would be uninsured under the plan, Trump took to Twitter.
"If Republican Senators are unable to pass what they are working on now, they should immediately REPEAL, and then REPLACE at a later date," Trump tweeted Friday morning
. One congressional aide close to the party leadership joked
: "Nothing like rolling a hand grenade into ongoing negotiations, eh?"
By Friday afternoon, as the Senate headed out of town until the middle of this coming week, no deal had been reached that could secure 50 Republican votes. "Think of it this way," McConnell explained to a local Republican group in Kentucky
. "I'm sitting there with a Rubik's cube, trying to figure out how to twist the dials to get to 50 to replace this with something better than this."
What McConnell knows is that there may be no way to twist the dials to get to 50 votes. But now he's going to have to spend even more time trying.
Mitch McConnell, for watching your best-laid plans blow up in your face, you had the worst week in Washington. Congrats, or something.