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The Latest: 5th GOP senator opposes debate on health bill

Associated Press logoAssociated Press 6/27/2017
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WASHINGTON — The Latest on the Republican legislation overhauling the Obama health care law (all times EDT):

11:20 a.m.

Utah Sen. Mike Lee has become the fifth Republican senator to oppose starting debate on the GOP health care bill. That deals another blow to party leaders hoping to push the top-priority measure through the Senate this week.

Lee was among four conservative senators who announced last week they oppose the bill's current version. Lee spokesman Conn Carroll said Tuesday that the lawmaker will not vote for a crucial procedural motion allowing the Senate to begin debate on the legislation, unless it's changed.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can lose the votes of only two of the 52 Republican senators to begin debate and ultimately pass the bill. All Democrats oppose it.

Lee has favored a fuller repeal of President Barack Obama's health care law than the current GOP bill.

Republican Sen. Mike Lee speaks during the Utah GOP Convention Saturday, May 20, 2017, in Sandy, Utah. © AP Photo/Rick Bowmer/File Republican Sen. Mike Lee speaks during the Utah GOP Convention Saturday, May 20, 2017, in Sandy, Utah.

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10:25 a.m.

House Speaker Paul Ryan says he has faith in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's ability to round up the votes for the Republican health care bill despite growing opposition in the Senate.

Ryan told reporters on Tuesday: "I would not bet against Mitch McConnell."

The Wisconsin Republican said he has every expectation that the Senate will move ahead on the bill, which the Congressional Budget Office says would kick 22 million off the insurance rolls. The bill would cut taxes, reduce the deficit and phase out the Medicaid expansion implemented by Barack Obama's health law.

Ryan said every Republican senator campaigned on repealing and replacing Obama's law.

The speaker said House members are waiting to see what happens in the Senate. The House could try to vote after the Senate to push the bill and get it to President Donald Trump before the weeklong July 4th recess.

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., talks with Secretary for the Majority Laura Dove, as he walks to his office on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, June 26, 2017. Senate Republicans unveil a revised health care bill in hopes of securing support from wavering GOP lawmakers, including one who calls the drive to whip his party's bill through the Senate this week "a little offensive." (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) © The Associated Press Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., talks with Secretary for the Majority Laura Dove, as he walks to his office on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, June 26, 2017. Senate Republicans unveil a revised health care bill in hopes of securing support from wavering GOP lawmakers, including one who calls the drive to whip his party's bill through the Senate this week "a little offensive." (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

7:45 a.m.

Senate Republican leaders are scrambling to rescue their health care bill. It's in trouble as opposition from rebellious Republicans grows.

The defections came as Congress' nonpartisan budget referee said the measure would leave 22 million more people uninsured by 2026 than President Barack Obama's law, which Republicans are trying to replace.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., was hoping to staunch his party's rebellion, a day after the Congressional Budget Office released its report. He's been aiming at winning Senate passage this week, before a weeklong July 4 recess that leaders worry opponents will use to weaken support for the legislation.

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