Washington, Jul 10: In a bid to get the unpopular health care reform bill passed before Congress goes on its August recess next month, President Donald Trump on Monday mounted fresh pressure on US lawmakers.
As Senators returned for work in Washington after a week off, Trump challenged fellow Republicans to make good on their signature campaign promise: repeal and replace "Obamacare," the reforms of his White House predecessor.
"I cannot imagine that Congress would dare to leave Washington without a beautiful new HealthCare bill fully approved and ready to go!" Trump wrote in an early morning tweet burst. Both chambers will go on recess for more than five weeks beginning July 28.
Trump has made repealing and replacing the 2010 Affordable Care Act a centerpiece of his agenda, and last month expressed confidence that the Senate bill would be a "phenomenal" plan with "heart." Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and aides crafted the new bill essentially in secret.
When it was unveiled in late June it immediately faced internal dissent from conservative and moderate wings of the party, and McConnell could not muster enough support before the July 4th holiday week as he had hoped. With Democrats united in opposition, McConnell needs the votes from 50 of the 52 Senate Republicans to get the measure passed.
During the holiday week, lawmakers returned to their districts where many faced constituents who expressed intense opposition to the plan. Polls show it to be very unpopular among voters. The Senate draft would keep some parts of Obamacare intact, but strip away much of its funding.
It also rolls back the expansion of Medicaid, the federal health care program for the poor and disabled. Some 10 Republicans have said they would not vote for the bill as written, including Senator Bill Cassidy, who told Fox News yesterday that "clearly the draft plan is dead."
Leadership is tweaking the measure, in a desperate bid to get enough Republicans on board, but Cassidy complained he has not even see the new version. "Is the serious rewrite plan dead? I don't know. I've not seen the serious rewrite plan," he said.
Several Republican dissenters have expressed concern that the bill could leave millions uninsured. Democrats have long said they are ready to work with Republican in that effort.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer wrote McConnell to "urge you to focus on immediately advancing policies to provide stability and certainty to the health insurance markets."A bipartisan fix of Obamacare might be needed if the repeal plan fails, McConnell has hinted.