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McConnell calls for bipartisan work on fixing the Affordable Care Act
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) talks to reporters on Capitol Hill in February 2017. (Oliver Contreras for The Washington Post)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Wednesday advocated working on a bipartisan basis to address shortcomings in the Affordable Care Act as Democrats prepare to take control of the House.

His comments marked a sharp departure from Republican efforts during the past two years to repeal former president Barack Obama’s signature health-care law while the party controlled both chambers of Congress and held the presidency.

During a news conference, McConnell acknowledged outright repeal of the 2010 law known as Obamacare is not possible with Democrats prevailing in the House in Tuesday’s midterms.

“I think it’s pretty obvious a Democratic House is not going to be interested in that,” he said.

At the same time, McConnell said, he considers the existing health-care system “a pretty big mess” and said he is hopeful his party can work with Democrats on bipartisan solutions.

“I don’t think anybody’s satisfied with the status quo,” McConnell said.

He said that he spoke Wednesday morning with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) — who is in line to become House speaker next year — about issues where they could find common ground. McConnell cited an infrastructure bill as a possibility.

During the news conference, McConnell also cautioned House Democrats about using their investigative powers too aggressively against Trump and his administration.

McConnell acknowledged that the tactic backfired on Republicans during the tenure of former president Bill Clinton.

“The business of presidential harassment, which we were deeply engaged in the ’90s, improved the president’s approval ratings and tanked ours,” McConnell said. “That might not be a smart strategy, but that’s up to them how they want to handle that.”

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