McConnell is working with hardly any margin for error.
Only a couple of months ago, Trump was discussing the possibility of a gas-tax hike to fund infrastructure spending, but that idea seems unlikely to fly in a bill that will need the votes of 50 of 52 GOP senators to pass and will most likely occur during an election year.
Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri, another GOP leader, was asked about recent downbeat assessments from other Republican senators - like Richard Burr of North Carolina, who said he didn't think a deal could be reached this year. Susan Collins (R-ME) that had been bashed by conservatives as "Obamacare-lite".
But even facing those challenges, there was rare optimism among Senate Republicans on Tuesday.
"We're ready to land this airplane", Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) said of the concepts discussed during the lunch.
In trying to build their own bill, McConnell has jettisoned the traditional legislative process of committee hearings and expert testimony in favor of a closed-door approach among key senators who are most engaged on the issue.
Other options being considered would change the tax credits the House bill offers to help people purchase private health insurance.
That legislative vision appeared to sway some on-the-fence members who could prove critical to cobbling together 50 GOP votes. Sen.
Trump over the course of his roughly five months in office has expressed frustration with Congress - particularly over Ryan's original and unsuccessful attempt to pass an ObamaCare overhaul bill and more recently over the Senate's "antiquated" and painstakingly slow process.
"We're running out of time in terms of stabilizing the markets.you really need to fish or cut bait here on something short term to stabilize the markets", he said.
"I am hopeful that they can do so much more", he said.
But those cuts - decried by major physician and patient groups - have made a number of key Republican senators uncomfortable, including lawmakers from states that have expanded Medicaid, such as Nevada, Arizona, West Virginia and Ohio. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said leaders are already working with the CBO on certain options. Without it, the chances of passing a health care bill out of the House again would be in jeopardy. Indeed, one of those senators, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, said on Monday that she won't commit to a bill that phases out the expansion, per Politico. One important date to keep in mind in the health care fight: September 30. The CBO has a bad track-record on scoring the budgetary impact on tax cuts, including the Reagan tax cuts that resulted in more revenue to the U.S. Treasury.
"You're scaring us", the host sighed.
Other potential swing votes include Sens. Some Republican states might even accept the ACA's Medicaid expansion (perhaps with some tweaks so they can say they're being tougher on the shiftless poor), because all that federal money is just waiting to pour into their states and insure their citizens. But if McConnell can somehow keep them in line, along with Cruz and Lee, he'll likely have the votes to pass the bill. "That means another 20 counties in the state of OH will have no health care plan". Rand Paul, R-Ky., has left Republicans "stuck". "Obamacare sucks", Kennedy said.
The small window for action and policy disagreements has upped the chatter among Senate GOP aides and associates that making good on their often-repeated promise to undo parts of Obamacare may not be possible. But there is great appetite as soon as they abandon it.
Establishment Republicans remain unsure whether the Senate can repeal Obamacare by the end of the summer. At that point, House lawmakers, particularly House conservatives, would have to decide whether they could support a bill that does not let insurers charge people with pre-existing conditions more and thereby lower premiums for other people.