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McConnell signals he won’t play a leading role in crafting the health care bill Trump wants

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has signaled that he does not plan to play a leading role in developing a new health-care bill and will instead wait to see what President Trump can craft that might pass in the Democratic-led House.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., speaks to reporters after a closed-door GOP meeting with Vice President Mike Pence, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

“I look forward to seeing what the president is proposing and what he can work out with the speaker,” McConnell said in a brief interview with Politico on Thursday.

His comments come as Trump is urging Republicans to be "the party of healthcare" and produce a replacement for the Affordable Care Act in advance of the 2020 elections.

Before heading to Michigan for a campaign rally on Thursday, Trump said that a team of Republican senators were working with him on a bill. He named Sens. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Bill Cassidy, R-La., and Rick Scott, R-Fla., as the point people on crafting the legislation.

"They are going to come up with something really spectacular," Trump told reporters.

Earlier in the week, Trump traveled to Capitol Hill to meet with Senate Republicans about the issue and spoke on the phone afterward with a handful of senators to urge them to help write a new law - a request that many consider unrealistic in a divided Congress and politically perilous ahead of next year's elections.

Trump's push comes after his Justice Department, in a filing Monday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, argued that the ACA should be thrown out in its entirety, including popular provisions protecting those with preexisting health conditions and allowing young adults to stay on their parents' health-care plans.

The White House has had no proposal in the works, according to administration officials, but Trump wants Republicans to pass a bill that would replace President Barack Obama's signature health-care law, which Trump has repeatedly called a "disaster."

"We're going to get rid of Obamacare," Trump said at Thursday night's campaign rally in Grand Rapids, Mich. "And I said the other day, the Republican Party will become the party of great health care. It's good. It's important."

Some leading House Republicans are also wary of Trump's approach. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., urged Trump to hold off on pushing for a court-ordered destruction of the ACA, advice the president ignored, according to a senior Republican official who spoke to The Washington Post earlier this week on the condition of anonymity to freely discuss the conversation.

McConnell told Politico that his focus in the coming months will be stopping efforts by some Democrats to pass a single-payer, "Medicare-for-all" health-care plan, which he derided as a "Medicare-for-none scheme."

Many Republicans think that is the smarter play politically. They argue that Democrats are seeking an unrealistic and costly overhaul of the health-care system that ultimately would replace private insurance.

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The Washington Post’s Rachael Bade and Colby Itkowitz contributed to this report.

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