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Trump Turns Bully Pulpit on Senate Republicans

President says it is time to vote on health care measure

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., along with Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, are looking for the votes to advance their health care measure. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., along with Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, are looking for the votes to advance their health care measure. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump turned up the heat on his own party Monday when he sent a blunt message to Senate Republicans: end years of merely talking about overhauling Barack Obama’s health law and send him a bill to get it done.

“There has been enough talk and no action. Now is the time for action,” Trump said in a Monday afternoon statement ahead of a planned Tuesday Senate vote on whether to officially take up a health bill.

Trump used his typically harsh rhetoric to criticize his party mates in an attempt to pressure them to first vote for the motion to proceed to the health bill, then later to pass whatever Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. decides to tee up. McConnell announced Monday afternoon the Senate would vote on the motion to proceed on Tuesday.

“Senate Republicans have not done their jobs in ending the Obamacare nightmare,” Trump said. “They now have a chance.”

Last week, following a meeting with Trump at the White House, McConnell emerged and said Senate Republicans face a decision between a bill to repeal Obama’s law now and replace it later, or to repeal and replace in one swoop.

McConnell has yet to announce which bill he intends to put on the floor, but Trump and his top aides have made clear that while he would sign whatever the Senate passes (with the House expected to quickly send it to his desk), he prefers nixing the law and replacing it in a single bill.

Among the remarks Trump made in the White House’s ornate Blue Room were that “every pledge” Democrats made to Americans before passing the Obama-era health law a collective was a “big, fat ugly lie.”

Trump did something he has not always done in talking about the Senate bill: He praised some things Republicans say it would do. That includes protect those with pre-existing conditions, drive down premiums, slash taxes ushered in by the 2010 law, hand Americans more insurance and care choices, and stabilize insurance markets across the country. 

“For the last seven years, Republicans have been united in standing up for Obamacare’s victims,” Trump said. But then he appeared to mock Republican lawmakers when he said in a disparaging tone: “Remember ‘repeal and replace, repeal and replace…’”

“They kept saying it over and over again. Every Republican running for office promised immediate relief from this disastrous law,” he said. “We as a party must fulfill that solemn promise to the voters of this country to repeal and replace.”

Meantime, there was one misstatement in Trump’s remarks, which appeared to be mix of prepared ones with a heavy does of ad-libbing. He said Obama’s health law has “wreaked havoc” on Americans for “17 years.” It only has been on the books since March 2010, however.

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