Trump urges GOP Senators to repeal Obamacare immediately, then replace
President Trump urged Republican Senators to repeal Obamacare immediately if they can't reach an agreement on how to reform it, then come up with another reform plan at a later date.
If Republican Senators are unable to pass what they are working on now, they should immediately REPEAL, and then REPLACE at a later date!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 30, 2017
Senate GOP leadership had set a deadline of Friday for a repeal/replace vote. That effort has now failed with many Republicans leaving town for the holiday weekend.
The White House said later that Trump was still "fully committed" to pushing the Republican draft healthcare bill through the Senate, although it was looking at every option for repealing and replacing Obamacare.
"The president hasn't changed his thinking at all," White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters.
The current Senate legislation would repeal parts of Obamacare, roll back its expansion of the Medicaid government healthcare program for the poor, eliminate most of Obamacare's taxes and replace Obamacare insurance subsidies with a system of tax credits to help individuals buy private health insurance.
Conservative and moderate Republicans have spent recent days pushing and pulling the bill in opposite directions as Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell sought common ground. Moderates want more equity for low-income Americans, while conservatives are fighting to loosen insurance regulations.
Shortly before his January inauguration, Trump urged lawmakers to repeal and replace Obamacare at the same time. Congressional Republicans had considered earlier this year first repealing, then replacing Obamacare, but backed away after some lawmakers protested that that approach could create a gap in insurance coverage for millions.
On Friday, Republican Senator Ben Sasse who had suggested that Congress first repeal Obamacare and then replace it, tweeted: "Glad you agree, Mr. Pres." Conservative Senator Rand Paul also backed the idea.
But others on Capitol Hill sounded annoyed. A senior Senate Republican aide, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that if lawmakers had been able to get the votes for repealing Obamacare first, then replacing it, "senators would have done that in January. It doesn't have the votes, and it's a waste of valuable time to discuss it."
Annie Clark, a spokeswoman for moderate Republican Senator Susan Collins, said the lawmaker would not support the strategy. McConnell's spokesman declined to comment on Trump's tweet.
It's ludicrous that there aren't the votes to repeal Obamacare outright. When the GOP was in the minority, the Republicans voted unanimously to repeal the law without any replacement at all.
Now, when the opportunity to repeal the law successfully is in front of them, Congress demurs.
Politically speaking, the GOP now owns the health care issue. All the damage done by Obamacare will be placed on Republican's shoulders by Democrats eager to wash their hands of the disaster. Whether they repeal it or not is no longer enough. If Obamacare goes under, Republicans will be blamed - not former President Obama and certainly not the minority Democrats.
GOP factionalism in the Senate will almost certainly prevent coming to an agreement that could pass muster in the House. In short, no matter the political damage, Republicans will probably have to wait for Obamacare to fully implode before they will agree on some kind of replacement.