Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.) said Sunday that he does not believe fellow Kentuckian and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) has the votes necessary to pass the Republican health care bill.
Senate Republicans are struggling to make good on a nearly decade-long promise to repeal and replace Obamacare, also known as the Affordable Care Act, and polls show their legislation is unpopular with voters.
Following news that McConnell was deferring a vote scheduled on the bill so Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) could have time to return from surgery, "Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace asked Paul if McConnell has the 50 votes he needs to pass it.
"I don't think right now he does," Paul said, according to The Hill.
Paul, a physician and sharp critic of the proposed Obamacare replacement, said it keeps most of the law's taxes and regulations.
"The real problem we have is we won four elections on repealing Obamacare, but this bill keeps most of the Obamacare taxes, keeps most of the regulations, keeps most of the subsidies," Paul said.
President Donald Trump has insisted McConnell has got to "pull it off" and get the votes necessary for passage. Trump said he will be "very angry" if Republicans fall short on their promise.
Asked by Wallace what will happen if this bill fails, Paul said he still thought there was a hope for the 52 Republicans in the Senate to agree on a more narrow replacement for Obamacare.
"The one thing we should do is try to repeal as many of the taxes, as many of the regulations and as many of the mandates as we possibly can," he said. "I still think the entire 52 of us could get together on a more narrow, clean repeal, and I think it still can be done."
Paul added his definition of "replace" for the law was different from other "big-government Republicans."
"My idea was always to replace it with freedom, legalize choice, legalize inexpensive insurance, allow people to join associations to buy their insurance," he said. "I'm still for all of those."
Paul added later that he would caution Trump against "overselling what's going to happen," saying that in the next decade, a new Congress and White House could overhaul their reforms as well.
UPDATE: July 17, 10:53 A.M.: This article was updated to include Paul's remark against cautioning Trump about overselling the bill.