Trump's suggestion has the potential to harden divisions within the GOP
President Donald Trump, speaks as he meets with Republican senators on health care in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, June 27, 2017. photo: AP/Susan Walsh, photo: AP/Susan Walsh
30 of June 2017 19:10:17
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump barged into Senate Republicans' delicate health care negotiations Friday, declaring that if lawmakers can't reach a deal they should simply repeal "Obamacare" right away and then replace it later on.Trump's tweet revives an approach that GOP leaders and the president himself considered but dismissed months ago as impractical and politically unwise. And it's likely to further complicate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's task as he struggles to bridge the divide between GOP moderates and conservatives as senators leave Washington for the Fourth of July break without having voted on a health care bill as planned.
The president sent his early-morning tweet shortly after Nebraska Republican Sen. Ben Sasse appeared on Fox News Channel's "Fox & Friends" to talk about a letter he had sent to Trump making that exact suggestion: a vote on repealing former President Barack Obama's health law followed by a new effort at a working out a replacement.Trump is a known "Fox & Friends" viewer, but Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky also claimed credit for recommending the tactic to the president in a conversation earlier in the week."Senator Rand Paul suggested this very idea to the president," said Paul spokesman Sergio Gor. "The senator fully agrees that we must immediately repeal Obamacare and then work on replacing it right away."Either way, Trump's suggestion has the potential to harden divisions within the GOP as conservatives like Paul and Sasse complain that McConnell's bill does not go far enough in repealing Obama's health care law while moderates criticize it as overly harsh in kicking people off insurance roles, shrinking the Medicaid safety net and increasing premiums for older U.S. citizens.
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
"It's distressing to see so many Republicans who've lied about their commitment to repeal," Ken Cuccinelli, president of the Senate Conservatives Fund, said in a conference call on Friday.Underscoring the fissures within the GOP, conservative group leaders on the conference call welcomed Trump's suggestion but said it didn't go far enough because it could open the door to a subsequent bipartisan compromise to replace Obama's law. At the same time, a key House Republican, Rep. Kevin Brady who chairs the Ways and Means Committee, rejected Trump's suggestion, contending that it "doesn't achieve what President Trump set out to do.""I really think the Senate's approach — certainly in the House — of not simply repealing but to start to put into place the elements that can make health care affordable, that's what the president set out to do," Brady said in an interview on C-SPAN's "Newsmakers" program.
Quick reaction from 2 GOP Hill staffers to Trump attack on Mika: How does this help pass health care when he needs Murkowski and Collins?— Glenn Thrush (@GlennThrush) June 29, 2017
ERICA WERNERALAN FRAM