WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump pressed Congress on Monday to get health care done before leaving for its long August recess, even as Republican senators say the GOP effort so far to repeal and replace the nation’s health law is probably dead.
On Monday, as senators were returning to Washington after the July Fourth recess, the president tweeted, “I cannot imagine that Congress would dare to leave Washington without a beautiful new HealthCare bill fully approved and ready to go!”
But prospects for the Republican effort in the Senate have been fading, and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has been scrambling to salvage the faltering legislation. Support for the initial measure eroded during the weeklong July 4 break as many senators heard from constituents angry about the GOP bill and the prospect of rising premiums.
“We don’t know what the plan is,” said Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., on Sunday.
“Clearly, the draft plan is dead. Is the serious rewrite plan dead? I don’t know.”
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said it may now be time for Republicans to come up with a new proposal with support from Democrats.
“I think my view is it’s probably going to be dead,” McCain said of the GOP bill. If Democrats are included, he said, it doesn’t mean “they control it. It means they can have amendments considered. And even when they lose, then they’re part of the process. That’s what democracy is supposed to be all about.”
Signaling his pessimism as well, Sen. Chuck Grassley wrote on Twitter late Saturday that Republicans will lose their Senate majority if they don’t pass health care legislation. The Iowa Republican said the party should be “ashamed” that it hasn’t been able to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.
At least 10 GOP senators have expressed opposition to the initial bill drafted by McConnell. Republicans hold a 52-48 majority and Democrats stand united against the bill, meaning that just three GOP defections will doom it.
McConnell last week said he would introduce a fresh bill in about a week scuttling and replacing much of former President Barack Obama’s health care law. But McConnell also acknowledged that if the broader effort fails, he may turn to a smaller bill with quick help for insurers and consumers and negotiate with Democrats.