President Trump admitted Tuesday that his bid to repeal and replace Obamacare could fail, on the heels of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s, R-Ky., announcement that the health care vote would be delayed.
‘This will be great if we get it done. And if we don’t get it done it’s going to be something that we’re not going to like. And that’s OK. And I understand that very well,’ the president said to a roomful of GOP senators.
The president had invited all 52 Republican senators to the White House Tuesday afternoon and strategically placed himself between Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, two votes he’ll have to fight the hardest for.
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President Trump (center) situated himself between two of the hardest Republican health care votes to get: Maine Sen. Susan Collins (left) and Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski (right)
Sens. Dean Heller, R-Nev. (far left), Susan Collins, R-Maine (center left), Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska (center right) and Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, listen to President Trump talk health care
At the conclusion of his meeting, President Trump tweeted that it had been a success, using the opportunity to again bash Obamacare
President Trump also noted how no Democrats were going to vote for the bill – despite the fact that Sen. Chuck Schumer, the top Senate Democrat, said today they would negotiate
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. (left), and Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., await a meeting Tuesday at the White House with President Donald Trump (center)
Sens. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., John Thune, R-S.D., and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell attended a meeting with the president at the White House today. No Democrats were invited
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, is photographed leaving the U.S. Capitol for a meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House Tuesday afternoon
The Republicans were taken to the White House via bus, as Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. (right), is spotted boarding the vehicle
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, is seen walking toward the buses that were taking Republican senators to the White House Tuesday afternoon
The president was also seated two seats down from Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., another hold-out, who has re-election concerns in a blue-ish state in 2018.
At the meeting, Trump said either all 52 Republicans, or 50 Republicans, were on hand, he couldn’t be sure.
‘So we’re going to talk and we’re going to see what we can do. And we’re getting very close, but for the country we have to have health care,’ Trump told the group gathered at the White House. ‘And it can’t be Obamacare, which is melting down.’
While admitting that failure could occur, he also noted that he wasn’t ready to accept defeat.
‘But I think we have the chance to do something very, very important for the public, very, very important for the people of our country that we love,’ Trump said, showing a bit more encouragement.
He soon asked reporters to leave the room, so he could begin the real wheeling and dealing.
‘We love you very much, you’re very kind and understanding,’ the president said to laughs, as the press left.
At the conclusion of the meet-and-greet, Trump sent out some tweets.
‘I just finished a great meeting with the Republican Senators concerning HealthCare. They really want to get it right, unlike OCare!’ he said.
Earlier today, McConnell announced the decision to delay the vote, because he couldn’t get enough GOP senators to the table.
‘I think you may have already heard,’ McConnell said stepping up to the podium on Capitol Hill.
‘We are going to continue discussions within our conference on the differences that we have, that we’re continuing to try to litigate, consequently we will not be on the bill this week, but we are still working toward getting at least 50 people in a comfortable place,’ he said.
The news of the vote delay had already leaked out from the Republican caucus’ lunch.
McConnell could only stand to lose the support of two GOP senators as the Republican Party holds the upper chamber 52-to-48, with Vice President Mike Pence available to act as a tie-breaker.
At least five GOP senators have said that they wouldn’t back the Senate’s version of an Obamacare repeal in its current form, prompting McConnell’s decision to delay the count until after the Fourth of July recess.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell informed reporters Tuesday that the Senate health care bill would not come up for a vote before the Fourth of July holiday
Mitch McConnell could only lose the support of two GOP senators to get the bill through. So far, five have said they can’t support the Obamacare repeal
The Senate majority leader said the president was purposely kept an arm’s distance away from negotiations to start, but now President Trump is hosting GOP senators at the White House
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell plans to delay the vote for the Senate health care bill, as a handful of members of his own party refuse to back the measure
Speaking several minutes after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took his turn, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (pictured) said Democrats did want to be part of discussions
Chuck Schumer, however, had a number of caveats, including that he didn’t want Republicans to technically ‘repeal’ Obamacare
Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders briefed reporters Tuesday and said President Trump continues to be ‘optimistic’ because he’s not working on a ‘timeline’
Additionally, no Democrats planned to vote for the bill.
‘They’re not interested in participating in this,’ McConnell said Tuesday.
‘We want to,’ Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said minutes after, when making his own statement on Capitol Hill.
He then, of course, added caveats.
‘Abandon tax breaks for the wealthy, abandon cuts to Medicaid, abandon repeal,’ Schumer advised. ‘Abandon the closed-door secret process they have used. Go to regular order. Have committee hearings, allow amendments and go back to the idea that you need 60 votes, a bipartisan majority to pass the bill and we can start over again and work together and try to get some improvements in our health care system.’
Schumer said if Republicans stuck with the current bill, which he called ‘rotten to the core,’ they should expect a fight.
‘We’re going to fight the bill tooth and nail and we have a darn good chance of defeating it, a week from now, a month from now, a year from now,’ the Senate’s top Democrat said.
After the White House meeting with Trump, McConnell said he didn’t even want the Democrats’ help.
‘Either Republicans will agree and change the status quo or the markets will continue to collapse and we’ll have to sit down with Sen. Schumer,’ the leader said. ‘And my suspicion is that any negotiation with the Democrats would include none of the reforms that we would like to make on the market side or the Medicaid side.’
Trump, in turn, acted as if the Democrats never offered.
‘With ZERO Democrats to help, and a failed, expensive and dangerous ObamaCare as the Dems legacy, the Republican Senators are working hard!’ the president tweeted after the White House meeting.
Originally, McConnell, the Senate GOP leader, wanted a vote before the end of this week, with the idea that the House could approve the Senate version or lawmakers could reconcile the differences in a conference committee before they headed home again for the lengthy August recess.
That would provide President Trump with his first big legislative victory since taking office.
But earlier today, Trump entertained one of the most vocal hold-outs at the White House, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.
After their meeting, McConnell called off the vote, likely because the conservative from his home state wouldn’t budge.
Monday’s offering by the Congressional Budget Office hadn’t helped matters, as the nonpartisan scorekeeper found that 22 million more American would be uninsured under the Senate GOP plan, compared to Obamacare.
The White House’s daily press briefing, which had been happening most days off camera, was delayed as Capitol Hill cameras awaited a statement from McConnell.
‘I remember how challenging it was for the Democrats, when they were enacting this back in 2009 and 2010, it’s a big complicated subject,’ McConnell said, excusing the delay. ‘We’ve got a lot of discussions going on and we’re still optimistic we’re going to get there.’
When the briefing did begin it was Deputy White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders who emerged, not Sean Spicer, as had been previously advised.
‘Obviously we’re continuing to be optimistic,’ she said, using the same vocabulary as McConnell just did.
‘It’s never been about the timeline, but about getting the best piece of legislation that helps the most Americans and that’s what we’re continuing to do, day in and day out, that’s the reason why the president has asked members of the Senate to come here today so that they can talk through that, so they can figure out the best way to move the ball forward,’ she added.
Spicer is filling the role of communications director in addition to his role as White House press secretary.
The crisis on Capitol Hill appeared to have the Trump spokesman tied up, as he was spotted leaving the capitol Tuesday afternoon, as the briefing was proceeding.
One of the hold-outs, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said she would be attending the meeting with Trump Tuesday, but she was unlikely to change her mind.
‘I will say I have so many fundamental problems with the bill that have been confirmed by the CBO report that it’s difficult for me to see how any tinkering is going to satisfy my fundamental and deep concerns about the impact of the bill,’ Collins said on CNN.
By 2026, if the Senate bill were to be implemented, an estimated 49 million Americans would be uninsured, compared to the 28 million who would likely lack insurance under Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act, the CBO also found.
The White House had brushed off the bad news in a statement Monday evening that slammed CBO’s ‘history of inaccuracy’ and said that the non-partisan entity ‘must not be trusted blindly.’
Huckabee Sanders made a similar statement today.
‘I don’t have a lot of confidence in that number,’ she said.
Collins also suggested that the Tuesday afternoon meeting was a good idea, but it might be too little, too late.
‘Personal relationships do matter and I think the president is smart to bring the members of the caucus,’ she said. ‘I think it would have been more effective to have done so earlier in the process.’
She said she had attended the one lunch President Trump had with senators.
‘And made several suggestions, which were not adopted into the bill,’ the Maine Republican added.
When speaking to reporters Tuesday, McConnell said the president was purposely kept an arm’s distance away from negotiations at the start.
‘Well, we always anticipated the president would be very important in getting us to a conclusion. After all, under our system he’s the man with the signature,’ McConnell began.
‘And in the early stages, it would candidly kind of been a waste of his time,’ the majority leader added.
‘We needed to get this far enough down the path to where there were a few extant that needed to be closed,’ McConnell explained. ‘And we’re delaying the process so that we can close those remaining issues and he’s fully engaged and being helpful in every way that he can, including the meeting this afternoon.’
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Monday that Trump had been in touch with multiple senators, including three of the holdouts.
Trump spoke to Republicans Paul, Ted Cruz and Ron Johnson, he said.
The president also put in a call to Shelley Moore Capito and several others the Trump spokesman could not name off the top of his head.
Paul said in a CNN interview shortly after that he told Trump he could get on board with the bill ‘if we narrow the focus.’
‘Let’s just say we aren’t going to fix everything,’ he said. ‘Let’s say we’re going to try to repeal as much of we can of Obamacare.’
However, Paul stayed in the no-column through Tuesday, inspiring the day’s events.
On Fox News Channel Tuesday evening, speaking with Neil Cavuto, Paul said he and the other GOP senators had a ‘good discussion’ with the president.
‘And I told the president that I am open to supporting it, but it has to get better, and it has to be more of a repeal bill,’ Paul said.
‘But I thought the president was very open-minded towards trying to make the bill a better bill. And I get along very well at the president. I think I can work with him,’ Paul added.