WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump said Wednesday he will be "very angry" if the Senate fails to pass a revamped Republican health care bill and said Majority Leader Mitch McConnell must "pull it off," intensifying pressure on party leaders laboring to preserve the teetering measure.
Trump's remarks came a day before McConnell, R-Ky., planned to release his revised legislation to a closed-door meeting of GOP senators. The new legislation eases some of the initial Medicaid cuts and makes other changes aimed at nailing down support. But internal GOP disputes over insurance coverage requirements and other issues still linger.
With all Democrats set to vote no, McConnell was aiming at an initial roll call next week on beginning debate, a motion that will require backing from 50 of the 52 GOP senators. Conservative Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said Wednesday he would oppose the motion and moderate Republican Susan Collins of Maine was widely expected to do the same — leaving McConnell with zero margin for error to sustain his party's goal of toppling President Barack Obama's health care law.
In a White House interview conducted Wednesday for the Christian Broadcasting Network's "The 700 Club," Trump said it was time for action by congressional Republicans who cast scores of votes "that didn't mean anything" to repeal the 2010 law while Obama was still president.
"Well, I don't even want to talk about it because I think it would be very bad," he said when network founder Pat Robertson what would happen if the effort fails. "I will be very angry about it and a lot of people will be very upset," Trump said.
Asked if McConnell would succeed, Trump said, "Mitch has to pull it off."
Besides Paul and Collins, at least two other Republican senators publicly said they hadn't decided whether to back McConnell on the initial vote: conservative Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Tim Scott, R-S.C.
Cruz is chief author of a proposal backed by other conservatives that would let an insurer sell low-premium, bare-bones policies as long as the company also sold a plan covering all the services — like substance abuse treatment — required by Obama's law. Party leaders have still not determined if Cruz's plan will be in their measure.
"It depends what's in the bill," Cruz said when asked if he would back the leaders' legislation.
Scott said he was still trying to determine if the legislation would help families and consumers with pre-existing medical problems.
McConnell withdrew an initial package two weeks ago in the face of Republican discord that would have spelled certain defeat.