Trump tells Republicans to get back on
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[July 31, 2017]
By Susan Cornwell
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President
Donald Trump and members of his administration on Sunday goaded
Republican senators to stick with trying to pass a healthcare bill,
after the lawmakers failed spectacularly last week to muster the votes
to end Obamacare.
For the second day running, the Republican president tweeted his
impatience with Congress' inability to deliver on his party's seven-year
promise to replace the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama's
signature healthcare bill commonly known as Obamacare. Members of his
administration took to the airwaves to try to compel lawmakers to take
But it was unclear whether the White House admonishments would have any
impact on Capitol Hill, where Republicans who control both houses
signaled last week that it was time to move on to other issues.
Republicans' zeal to repeal and replace Obamacare was met with both
intra-party divisions between moderates and conservatives and also the
increasing approval of a law that raised the number of insured Americans
by 20 million.
Polling indicates a majority of Americans are ready to move on from
healthcare at this point. According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on
Saturday, 64 percent of 1,136 people surveyed on Friday and Saturday
said they wanted to keep Obamacare, either "entirely as is" or after
fixing "problem areas." That is up from 54 percent in January.
With the U.S. legislative branch spinning its wheels, the executive
branch pledged to look at rewriting Obamacare regulations. Health and
Human Services Secretary Tom Price told ABC's "This Week" that he would
change those regulations that drive up costs or "hurt" patients.
Price sidestepped questions about whether there were administration
plans to waive Obamacare's mandate that individuals have health
insurance, saying "all things are on the table to try to help patients."
But Price also told NBC he would implement Obamacare because it is the
"law of the land."
That Obamacare was still law clearly angered Trump, who has no major
legislative accomplishments to show for his first half-year in office.
"Don't give up Republican Senators, the World is watching: Repeal &
Replace ..." the president said in a tweet on Sunday morning.
NOT 'TIME TO MOVE ON'
On Friday, Senate Republicans failed to collect enough votes to repeal
even a few parts of Obamacare. That capped a week of failed Senate votes
on whether to simply repeal, or repeal and replace, the 2010 law, while
Trump repeatedly berated lawmakers in a late attempt to influence the
"The president will not accept those who said, quote, 'it’s time to move
on,'" Kellyanne Conway, a senior counselor to Trump, said on Fox News
Sunday. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, had made
exactly that comment before dawn on Friday morning after the failed
[to top of second column]
President Donald Trump calls on Republican Senators to move forward
and vote on a healthcare bill to replace the Affordable Care Act in
the Blue Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., July 24, 2017.
The White House budget director, Mick Mulvaney, said on Sunday lawmakers
should stay in session to get something done on healthcare - even if
this means postponing votes on other issues such as raising the debt
"So yes. They need to stay. They need to work. They need to pass
something," Mulvaney said on CNN.
The House of Representatives has already gone home for its August
break and the Senate is expected to do the same by mid-August.
Mulvaney also said Trump was seriously considering carrying out
threats he tweeted about on Saturday, when the president said that
"if a new HealthCare Bill is not approved quickly, BAILOUTS for
Insurance Companies and BAILOUTS for Members of Congress will end
That tweet appeared to be referring to the approximately $8 billion
in cost-sharing reduction subsidies the federal government pays to
insurers to lower the price of health coverage for low-income
The Saturday tweet also appeared to be a threat to end the employer
contribution for members of Congress and their staffs, who were
moved from the normal federal employee healthcare benefits program
onto the Obamacare insurance exchanges as part of the 2010
"What he’s saying is, look, if Obamacare is hurting the American
people – and it is – then why shouldn’t it hurt insurance companies
and more importantly, perhaps for this discussion, members of
Congress?" Mulvaney said on Sunday on CNN.
Some Republicans have said they are trying to find a way forward on
healthcare. Senate Republican Susan Collins, one of three
Republicans who voted against repealing parts of Obamacare on
Friday, told NBC that Congress should produce a series of bills with
bipartisan input on healthcare, including appropriating the
The Senate has one vote scheduled when it reconvenes on Monday
afternoon: whether to confirm a U.S. circuit court judge. Senate
aides said they had no guidance for the agenda beyond that vote.
(Additional reporting by Sarah N. Lynch, Roberta Rampton, and Caren
Bohan; Editing by Phil Berlowitz and Mary Milliken)
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