WASHINGTON (CN) – President Trump took to Twitter Friday morning to encourage Republican Senators to immediately repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it later if they can’t get the votes needed to pass the Senate health care bill and send it back to the House.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had wanted to bring the bill to the floor for a vote before the July 4 break but the GOP leadership has not yet been able to whip the votes needed to pass it.
“If Republican Senators are unable to pass what they are working on now, they should immediately REPEAL, and then REPLACE at a later date!” Trump tweeted.
Only a handful of Republican senators, including Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky, and Ben Sasse, R-Neb., have openly supported such a move in order to forge ahead on repealing Obamacare, one of the party’s top priorities.
GOP leaders had previously dismissed that idea, worried about the political impact of stripping health care coverage from millions of their constituents without an immediate replacement for it.
President Trump’s tweet came the morning after ABC reported that McConnell said Republicans might have to work with Democrats if the Senate bill fails.
“Either Republicans will agree and change the status quo or … we’ll have to sit down with [Democratic Leader Chuck] Schumer,” ABC quotes McConnell as saying after a meeting at the White House with President Trump and other members of the Senate Republican conference.
On Thursday, Senate Republicans were scrambling to come up with compromises to break the impasse on what the replacement bill should look like, and save it from defeat.
McConnell can only lose two Republican votes. Right now, those publicly opposed to the bill are split between moderate and more conservative Republicans.
In a break with party dogma – and in an effort to pull in some of the moderates – Republicans are reportedly considering keeping a tax boost imposed on high income earners under the Affordable Care Act.
That change, proposed by Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., would direct those funds to helping low income people subsidize their health care costs, perhaps as a way to ease the projected impact of the bill by the Congressional Budget Office. The CBO estimates that 22 million people could lose insurance under the Senate bill, while out of pocket costs for poorer consumers could rise.
To appease conservatives wavering over the bill, Republicans also considered letting insurers offer plans with fewer benefits, but which would have lower premiums. However, that effort could be complicated by consumer-friendly coverage requirements under the Affordable Care Act, which companies would still need to comply with.