By Jordain Carney - 05-08-17 14:50 PM EDT
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is signaling that the Senate will not quickly pass legislation to reform the nation's healthcare system after a bill cleared the House last week.
"This process will not be quick or simple or easy, but it must be done," McConnell said on Monday.
He added that "to those who have suffered enough already my message is this: We hear you, and Congress is acting."
The House approved the American Health Care Act (AHCA) late last week, but the Senate is expected to overhaul the bill as they try come up with a plan that can get enough support to pass the upper chamber.
McConnell didn't get into the details of the House bill but argued senators faced a choice between passing a new bill or the "indefensible ObamaCare status quo."
"It's the least members in both parties owe to the countless Americans who continue to suffer under ObamaCare and the countless more who will be hurt if we don't act," he said.
McConnell will face a narrow path for clearing a healthcare reform bill through the Senate. Republicans have a 52-seat majority, meaning he could lose up to two senators and still let Vice President Pence break a tie.
No Democrats are expected to support a bill that would repeal significant portions of ObamaCare.
GOP senators signaled last last week that they would not rush to vote on a healthcare bill, with Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) telling reporters that he couldn't commit to having a proposal ready by mid-June.
McConnell has convened a group of roughly a dozen senators as they try to hash out a deal that could get enough support.
Sens. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) both noted after the House's vote that they didn't support the AHCA.
A handful of senators, including Grassley and Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), noted they expect the Senate to write its own bill.