WASHIGNTON (CN) – With their latest attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act seemingly in peril, Senate Republicans attended a lunch at the White House on Wednesday where President Donald Trump pressured them to deliver on the promise of a new health care law.
“I’m ready to act,” Trump told senators on Wednesday, according to a pool report. “People are hurting. Inaction is not an option and frankly I don’t think we should leave town unless we have a health insurance plan, unless we can give people great health care. Because we’re close, we’re very close.”
The Senate Republican replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act, known as the Better Care Reconciliation Act, fell apart on Monday when Sens. Mike Lee and Jerry Moran became the third and fourth Republicans to oppose the bill.
Republicans could only afford two defections in order to bring the bill to the floor for a decisive vote, leading Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to announce on Monday night that the Senate would vote on a clean repeal of the Affordable Care Act even without a ready replacement. Trump had earlier pressured Republicans to do so if they weren’t able to pull together support for a new plan.
But the plan to go for a delayed repeal also fell apart quickly, with Sens. Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and Shelley Moore Capito coming out against the idea early on Tuesday. McConnell still insisted at a press conference on Tuesday that he would go forward with the repeal even with the three opposing voices in his caucus.
That lead to the meeting on Wednesday, where Trump shifted back to his original call to pass a complete replacement for the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare.
“I’ve been here six months,” Trump said at the lunch, according to a pool report. “I’m ready to act, pen in hand, believe me. I’m sitting in that office. I have pen in hand. You never had that before.”
McConnell has already delayed the Senate’s scheduled August recess so lawmakers can work on health care and other legislation that has fallen aside as the vigorous debate has raged.
But even as the pressure from the White House has grown, some Republicans have appeared to soften on the idea of including Democrats in a fix of the current law, rather than the partisan repeal that McConnell and Republican leadership attempted.
Sen. John McCain, whose surgery for a blood clot above his eye caused McConnell to delay the vote originally planned for this week, said in a statement on Monday that Congress should not “repeat the original mistakes that led to Obamacare’s failure.”
“The Congress must now return to regular order, hold hearings, receive input from members of both parties and heed the recommendations of our nation’s governors so that we can produce a bill that finally provides Americans with access to quality and affordable health care,” McCain said in the statement.