Sen. Rand Paul said Wednesday that his relationship with President Donald Trump remains strong even though the Kentucky lawmaker was one of four Republicans to sink, at least for the moment, Senate legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare.
“I think the president and I have a good relationship. I’ve been one of his strongest defenders. I will continue to defend him against mainstream media attacks,” Paul said Wednesday morning on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “But on issues of substance like health care, he knows where I’m coming from.”
It was Paul (R-Ky.), along with Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), whose opposition to a Senate bill to repeal and replace Obamacare wound up collapsing the most recent Republican efforts to undo the controversial healthcare legislation. The GOP leadership-backed bill, dubbed the Better Care Reconciliation Act, struggled to find support at the edges of the party’s political spectrum, evidenced by its lack of support from conservatives like Paul and Lee as well as from a moderate like Collins.
Trump on Tuesday expressed frustration with the Republicans whose opposition had foiled the party’s repeal-and-replace efforts, writing on Twitter that “We were let down by all of the Democrats and a few Republicans.” Later Tuesday, in remarks to reporters, Trump said he was “certainly disappointed” but that the four senators who opposed the bill “were not disloyal” and “had their own reasons” for their positions.
Far from looking to sink GOP efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare, Paul said Tuesday that he was interested in steering Republicans away from a bill that he predicted would have terrible political consequences for the party. The Kentucky conservative said he still favors a replacement for Obamacare, but the legislation proposed by his party’s leadership would leave in place some of the same provisions that Paul objects to in the current law.
“I’m also fearful, both politically and also from the point of view of policy, that if we keep parts of Obamacare in place, that the Republican plan will fail. And I’m really wanting Republicans to be saved from themselves,” Paul said. “If they take over health care and pass something that resembles Obamacare and doesn’t work, then we will own a terrible and tragic health care system, and I don’t think Republicans ought to own this thing.”