Trump suggests GOP repeal now, replace later
GOP dismissed that approach months ago as unwise and impractical
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 earlier in the week.
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 Americans.
A McConnell spokesman declined to comment on Trump’s tweet.