President Donald Trump on Monday warned that any Republican who refuses to vote to move forward on the GOP’s health care bill on Tuesday is siding with the "Obamacare nightmare" and against the welfare of America.
“The question for every senator, Democrat or Republican, is whether they will side with Obamacare’s architects, which have been so destructive to our country, or with its forgotten victims,” Trump said in a fiery speech the White House’s Blue Room. “Any senator who votes against starting debate is telling America that you are fine with the Obamacare nightmare, which is what it is.”
The remarks were a loud appeal to Senate Republicans to follow through their campaign-trail promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act even as the proposals circulating in the Senate appear to lack the support to pass, just the day before the scheduled vote to start debate.
Republican senators said Monday that they were still unsure what they were going to be voting on the next day — a version of the Senate’s earlier replacement bill, which previously lacked sufficient support to pass, or a straight Obamacare replacement bill from 2015. Both proposals seemed on track to fail, and it remained unclear if there are even enough votes to take up debate on the bill, though GOP leaders were still attempting to get enough members on board to pass something.
Trump was harshly critical of the ACA in his remarks on Monday, calling it “death” and a “government takeover of health care” and claimed that “every pledge that Washington Democrats made to pass that bill turned out to be a big, fat lie.”
The president gave the speech with people standing behind him whom he described as “suffering” because of the law and claimed that the law had caused “nothing but pain” for some families.
Premiums on the Obamacare exchanges have increased in the years since the ACA passed and the markets are fragile in parts of some states, especially in rural areas. But it has increased in popularity this year, making it more difficult politically for Republicans to dismantle it. The proportion of Americans lacking health insurance has plummeted under the law and some of its regulations, especially its protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions, are hugely popular.
Trump did not hint at that divide over the merits of the law in his speech on Monday, though, when he chastised Republicans for failing to get rid of it.
As Senate leaders have struggled to get their members on board with health care reform, Trump himself has gone back and forth on whether the caucus should pass a bill to replace the ACA, former President Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement, or just repeal it and come up with a replacement plan later.
At other points, the president has suggested letting Obamacare “fail” with the logic that Democrats, but not Republicans, would face the electoral consequences for any future problems in the insurance market. He has most recently focused on pressuring Republicans to pass a replacement bill now and warned them that there will be consequences if they fail to do so.