Trump rips into Republicans after healthcare defeat

Donald Trump returns from a trip at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, on July 28, 2017.
Donald Trump returns from a trip at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, on July 28, 2017. PHOTO: NYTIMES

WASHINGTON • United States President Donald Trump lashed out at fellow Republicans in Congress after suffering a major setback when the Senate failed to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Two Republican women - Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski - along with Senator John McCain joined Democrats in a dramatic thumbs-down vote last Friday that triggered the stunning collapse of Mr Trump's health reforms. But the President demanded that lawmakers revisit the hot-button issue, taunting them by saying that, otherwise, they are no more than "total quitters".

"Unless the Republican Senators are total quitters, Repeal & Replace is not dead! Demand another vote before voting on any other Bill!" he wrote in a series of angry tweets on Saturday. He also appeared to threaten lawmakers that he would cut their healthcare benefits if they do not "quickly" approve a new Bill.

"If a new healthcare Bill is not approved quickly, BAILOUTS for insurance companies and BAILOUTS for members of Congress will end very soon!" he wrote.

In an early-morning tweet, he urged senators to end the legislative filibuster. Senate rules set a 60-vote minimum threshold to pass most legislation.

Yet, the Republicans' Obamacare repeal measures required only a 51-vote majority in the Senate due to the process the Chamber's leaders chose to push it through.

Republicans currently have 52 seats and Vice-President Mike Pence casts a vote when there is a tie. But the 60-vote requirement makes senators "look like fools", Mr Trump said, adding that "8 Dems totally control the US Senate".


"Republicans in the Senate will NEVER win if they don't go to a 51 vote majority NOW. They look like fools and are just wasting time," he wrote.

Meanwhile, a majority of Americans are ready to move on from healthcare at this point.

According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released last Saturday, 64 per cent of 1,136 people surveyed said they wanted to keep Obamacare, either "entirely as is" or after fixing "problem areas".

When asked what they think Congress should do next, most picked other priorities, such as tax reform, foreign relations and infrastructure.

Only 29 per cent said they wanted Republicans in Congress to "continue working on a new healthcare Bill".


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 31, 2017, with the headline 'Trump rips into Republicans after healthcare defeat'. Print Edition | Subscribe