WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump asked Republican senators not to leave town for their August recess without passing a health care reform plan that makes good on seven years of promises to repeal President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
Trump told the lawmakers that Republicans are “closer than people understand” on getting health care reform done and “have to pull through.”
“We are in this room to deliver on our promise,” Trump said. “We have no choice, we have to repeal and replace Obamacare. We can repeal it but the best is repeal and replace and let’s get going. I intend to keep my promise and I know you will, too.”
He added: “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 our people great health care because we are close, we are very close.”
Congress is set to depart Washington in mid-August, where they will return to their home states for the remainder of the month. Trump is also expected to spend a prolonged period away from the White House in August.
“I am ready to act,” Trump said. “I have pen in hand, believe me, I am sitting in that office, I have pen in hand. You never had that before.”
The meeting — the second Trump luncheon with senators on the topic — comes a day after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s second plan to gut the Affordable Care Act was knocked off course by four senators who said they wouldn’t go along with the bill. It marked the second-time McConnell hit a roadblock in less than 24 hours.
The President also worked the phones on Tuesday, according to an aide for Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah.
But Trump, the aide said, was lobbying the senator to support a strategy McConnell had already abandoned. The gist of the call was “how to get a good repeal bill passed,” the aide said, but the discussion centered around how to get the bill that McConnell dispatched earlier this week — the Better Care Reconciliation Act — passed.
During the call, the aide said, Lee reiterated to Trump his request for the consumer freedom amendment. A White House official declined to detail who else Trump called on Tuesday.
Trump’s activism on the bill has come primarily over the phone. The President made calls to skeptical senators earlier this month during a trip to Paris and spoke with lawmakers over the weekend as he took in a golf tournament at his private club in New Jersey.
But Wednesday, in the wake of McConnell’s failed efforts, he will try and lobby lawmakers in person.
“I will be having lunch at the White House today with Republican Senators concerning healthcare,” Trump tweeted on Wednesday morning. “They MUST keep their promise to America!”
Trump said Tuesday he was “very disappointed” that the Senate was unable pass their initial plan, but pledged he, his White House and Senate Republicans will not take the blame for Obamacare’s failures.
“I think we’re probably in that position where we’ll just let Obamacare fail. We’re not going to own it,” Trump said. “I’m not going to own it, I can tell you. The Republicans are not going to own it. We’ll let Obamacare fail.”