Trump: “It has to get passed”

Pres­i­dent says he’ll be “very an­gry” if the Se­nate GOP fails.

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By John Wag­ner

WASHINGTON» Pres­i­dent Trump on Wed­nes­day put the onus squarely on Se­nate Repub­li­cans to pass a health care bill, declar­ing that he will be “very an­gry” if the cham­ber falls short on a long­stand­ing prom­ise of his party.

“I am sit­ting in the Oval Of­fice with a pen in hand, wait­ing for our sen­a­tors to give it to me,” Trump said. “It has to get passed. They have to do it. They have to get to­gether and get it done.”

The pres­i­dent — who has been crit­i­cized by some al­lies for not do­ing enough to sell the un­pop­u­lar leg­is­la­tion — spoke out dur­ing an in­ter­view at the White House with tel­e­van­ge­list Pat Robert­son of CBN News.

The ur­gency Trump placed on the task stood in sharp con­trast to com­ments last month, when he

said that it would be un­for­tu­nate if the bill didn’t reach his desk but that it would be “OK.”

In the in­ter­view with Robert­son, Trump sug­gested that Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell, R-Ky., was most re­spon­si­ble now for the fate of a bill over­haul­ing the Af­ford­able Care Act, Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s sig­na­ture do­mes­tic achieve­ment.

“He’s got to pull it off,” Trump said. “Mitch has to pull it off. He’s work­ing very hard. He’s got to pull it off.”

McCon­nell an­nounced Tues­day that he would cut the cham­ber’s Au­gust re­cess in half, say­ing the GOP needed more time on the pro­tracted ne­go­ti­a­tions over the health care leg­is­la­tion as well as other is­sues.

McCon­nell has been work­ing to bridge dif­fer­ences be­tween mod­er­ates and con­ser­va­tives in his cau­cus to come up with a bill that 50 of the 52 Repub­li­cans in the cham­ber can sup­port. A House bill passed in early May.

“For years, they’ve been talk­ing about re­peal-re­place, re­peal-re­place,” Trump said. “I think they passed it 61 times (dur­ing Obama’s pres­i­dency), but that didn’t mean any­thing be­cause you had the mi­nor­ity. The Repub­li­cans, they didn’t have the ma­jor­ity, so it wasn’t go­ing to get to the pres­i­dent. But if it ever did, Obama wasn’t go­ing to sign it.”

“Now we have a pres­i­dent that’s wait­ing to sign it,” Trump said. “I have pen in hand, so now it means some­thing. You know, those other times, those many, many times that they passed it, it didn’t mean any­thing.”

Ex­cerpts from the in­ter­view with Robert­son were re­leased Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon. The full in­ter­view is set to air on “The 700 Club” on Thurs­day.

As the Repub­li­can push to re­vamp the Af­ford­able Care Act has stalled again, even some Trump boost­ers have ques­tioned whether he ef­fec­tively has used the bully pul­pit af­forded by his of­fice and have been in­creas­ingly frus­trated by dis­trac­tions re­lated to the Rus­sia probe.

Trump has spo­ken out re­peat­edly about the short­com­ings of Oba­macare, which he brands a “dis­as­ter.” But he has made rel­a­tively lit­tle ef­fort to de­tail for the pub­lic why Repub­li­can re­place­ment plans would im­prove on the for­mer pres­i­dent’s sig­na­ture ini­tia­tive.

Trump’s pub­lic ef­forts to dis­man­tle the health care law con­trast sharply with Obama’s ef­forts to build sup­port in ad­vance of its 2010 pas­sage. Obama gave a joint ad­dress to Congress on health care. He fielded ques­tions at town hall meet­ings around the coun­try. He even ban­tered on live tele­vi­sion with hos­tile law­mak­ers at a Repub­li­can re­treat.

Trump’s pub­lic state­ments about the bills, at times, have risked do­ing more harm than good, lead­ing to ques­tions about how ded­i­cated he is to the task at hand — a view bol­stered by Trump’s head-scratch­ing com­ments that he con­sid­ered the House bill “mean” and that it would be “OK” if sen­a­tors were un­able to pass a bill.

Trump fur­ther mud­died the waters in June by float­ing the pos­si­bil­ity on Twit­ter that law­mak­ers could re­peal the ACA now and re­place it later.

A Con­gres­sional Bud­get Of­fice anal­y­sis of the Se­nate plan — which is be­ing re­worked by GOP lead­ers — pro­jected that it would lead to 22 mil­lion fewer Amer­i­cans hav­ing cov­er­age within a decade.

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