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Trump says he’ll be ‘angry’ if Senate health care bill flops

  • House Freedom Caucus Chairman Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., second from left, and others, participates in a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 12, 2017, to say that his group wants to delay the traditional August recess until work is accomplished on health care, the debt ceiling and tax reform. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) J. Scott Applewhite

  • Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., a key opponent of the Republican health care bill, arrives for weekly policy meetings on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 11, 2017. With at least a dozen Republicans opposing or challenging parts of the GOP health care bill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said he will unveil their revised health care bill Thursday and begin voting on it next week. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) J. Scott Applewhite

  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., joined by Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas, meets with reporters after a closed-door Republican strategy session, Tuesday, July 11, 2017, on Capitol Hill in Washington. McConnell said Senate Republicans will unveil their revised health care bill Thursday and begin voting on it next week, adding, he could delay the chamber's August recess for two weeks as the GOP tries breaking logjams that have slowed work on that and other issues. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) J. Scott Applewhite

  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., with his director of operations Stefanie Hagar Muchow, right, walks to his office on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) Pablo Martinez Monsivais



Associated Press
Wednesday, July 12, 2017

President Donald Trump said Wednesday he will be “very angry” if the Senate fails to pass a revamped Republican health care bill and said Majority Leader Mitch McConnell must “pull it off,” intensifying pressure on party leaders laboring to win over unhappy GOP senators and preserve the teetering measure.

Trump’s remarks came a day before McConnell, R-Ky., planned to release his revised legislation to a closed-door meeting of GOP senators. The new legislation would keep most of the initial Medicaid cuts and makes other changes aimed at nailing down support, but internal GOP disputes lingered that were threatening to sink it.

With all Democrats set to vote no, McConnell was moving toward a do-or-die roll call next week on beginning debate, a motion that will require backing from 50 of the 52 GOP senators.

Conservative Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said Wednesday he would oppose the motion and moderate Republican Susan Collins of Maine seemed all but sure to do the same – leaving McConnell with zero margin for error to sustain his party’s goal of toppling President Barack Obama’s health care law. Several other GOP senators were holdouts as well, leaving McConnell and his lieutenants just days to win them over or face a major defeat.

In a White House interview conducted Wednesday for the Christian Broadcasting Network’s The 700 Club, Trump said it was time for action by Congressional Republicans who cast scores of votes “that didn’t mean anything” to repeal the 2010 law while Obama was still president.

“Well, I don’t even want to talk about it because I think it would be very bad,” he said when network founder Pat Robertson asked what would happen if the effort fails. “I will be very angry about it and a lot of people will be very upset.”

Asked if McConnell would succeed, Trump said, “Mitch has to pull it off.”

Trump has played a limited role in cajoling GOP senators to back the legislation. Asked Wednesday about the president’s involvement, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters the White House was providing “technical assistance.”

McConnell’s new bill was expected to offer only modest departures from the original version.

Its key elements remain easing Obama’s requirements that insurers cover specified services like hospital care and cutting the Medicaid health care program for the poor, disabled and nursing home patients. Obama’s penalties on people who don’t buy coverage would be eliminated and federal health care subsidies would be less generous.

The new package would eliminate tax increases the statute imposed on the health care industry. But it would retain Obama tax boosts on upper-income people, and use the revenue to help some lower earners afford coverage, provide $45 billion to help states combat drug abuse and give extra money to some hospitals in states that didn’t use Obama’s law to expand Medicaid.

Paul told reporters the revised measure didn’t go far enough.

“I don’t see anything in here really remotely resembling repeal,” he said.

Collins has long complained the measure will toss millions off coverage. Spokeswoman Annie Clarke said Collins would vote no next week “if the Medicaid cuts remain the same” as those that have been discussed.

Besides Paul and Collins, at least three other Republican senators publicly said they hadn’t decided whether to back McConnell on the initial vote: conservative Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Utah’s Mike Lee and Tim Scott of South Carolina.